Altrincham grammar school told it cannot change entrance exam by Government adjudicator

Messenger Newspapers: Headteacher Tim Gartside Headteacher Tim Gartside

AN Altrincham grammar school has been told it cannot change one of its entrance exams by a Government adjudicator.

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys had wanted to change its non-verbal reasoning paper to an English exam, which tests children’s quality of expression, grammar and comprehension, rather than their ability to spot patterns in a sequence of codes or shapes, as is the case with the non-verbal reasoning paper.

Headteacher, Tim Gartside, said: “We wanted to make the change because we feel that English is something that everybody studies at primary school, so everybody is on a level playing field when they come to take the test.”

He continued: “Myself and the governors feel that to be able to access the curriculum, in other words, to keep up well with the subjects in school, children should have a decent command of English.”

But, in a report published on June 26, the Government’s schools adjudicator, Cecilia Galloway, upheld the objections of one parent and one member of the public.

Ms Galloway said: “In summary, I have concluded that the consultation process was not conducted in accordance with the code, and that changes have been made to the testing procedure for September 2014 are unfair due to the potential disadvantage to whom English is not the first language and to able children with special educational needs.”

Mr Gartside said while he felt notifying parents of proposed changes in December amounted to a sufficient notice period, the school would respect the adjudicator’s decision.

“I think we’re going to take this opportunity to reassess things and to decide what we do next, but we remain convinced of the benefits of an English test,” he said.

In a statement to parents, the school’s governing body thanked them for their patience during the three-month inquiry and informed them that no changes would be made to the examination process for 2014.

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