Plymouth parents hit out over 'fiasco' of 11-plus results
FRUSTRATED parents have branded the 11+ selection process a "complete fiasco".
Children who sat the exam in September received the test results on Friday – but will have to wait several months to know if they have got a place at grammar school.
The confusion has been caused by the different procedures operated by the city's three grammar schools. And an online forum set up to help parents understand the results has seen nearly 4,000 views.
Parents have to give their preferences for their child's secondary school before October 31 – without knowing if their 11+ score is high enough to get them a place at a grammar.
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They will have to wait until March to hear which school their child has been accepted at.
At Devonport High School for Boys parents were told whether their son had "achieved a qualifying score" but no guarantee has been given they will receive a place.
Girls have also been sent the results of their tests but have been given no indication whether the mark is high enough for a grammar place.
Parent Anita Barry said: "This is a topic that has left many hundreds of parents, myself included, very frustrated."
Another parent who asked not to be named, said: "This makes it really hard for parents to make an informed choice. It's a complete fiasco."
Another parent added: "The stress levels are through the roof.
"We all expected to get a more definite answer today and ended up no better off. If not worse off! My daughter is very upset."
Mary Utton, headteacher of Plymouth High School for Girls, said her school and Devonport High School for Girls were unable to offer more guidance than the child's result.
She said a child's acceptance to the school would depend on the overall performance for the year, the amount of pupils who have sat the exam and the school preferences parents give.
Altogether 360 girls took the 11+ in Plymouth, the top score achieved was 263 and the bottom score was 138.
There are currently 120 places at Devonport High School for Girls and 120 places at Plymouth High School for Girls.
Now parents are publishing their child's results on the Eleven Plus Exams Forum entitled 'Devonport High School For Girls 11+ results' to help make the picture clearer on how their child has done overall in the city.
Ms Utton urged parents to make their choices on which school they'd like their child to attend, and even if their first choice is not possible this will not affect where their child will go.
Ms Utton continued: "The way admissions work is on an equal preference. Parents don't lose out by putting a school down as their first choice. We do not have a pass or fail rate; the cut off point will change year on year."
The Equal Preference System was created to prevent admission authorities giving higher priority to parents who make a particular school their first preference.
Cllr Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said he was as frustrated as parents about the lack of information.
He said: "Our original intention was to include a child's scores and last year's cut off marks, as this would have given parents some indication, although it would not have been a definitive measure, of whether their child's score would have given them a chance of being accepted by the school of their choice.
"In the case of the girls' grammar schools, we were told not to include benchmarking information.
"Both schools were nervous about the potential for confusion, as this year's range of scores differs from last year's (they are 20 marks higher this year).
"The impact of the preference system, which means allocating places is not as straightforward as ranking them by score, affects the relevance of the previous year's figures – therefore we decided it would be better to remove the benchmark.
"We find ourselves under fire from parents who are frustrated because they've been issued with test scores that hold no meaning, because they have no context.
"I am as outraged as them. We have been put in an extremely awkward position and my sympathies are entirely with parents and young people – this is ridiculous.
"With that said, I'd advise parents to complete their school admission forms as best they can with the information they have been given."
Plymouth City Council is also running sessions for parents wanting to talk about the 11+ results letters.
On Thursday October 11, there will be four sessions at the Jan Cutting Healthy Living Centre, Scott Business Park, Beacon Park Rd with Bob Burton, choice adviser for the Plymouth Parent Partnership.
The session times available are 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm.
The choice adviser helps provide independent advice about school admissions; he does not act for one particular school or organisation.
Devonport High School for Girls was unavailable for comment.