Britain's oldest school exam – The Common Entrance to be scrapped amid diversity drive at private schools
30th September 2019
The Common Entrance Exam, taken by pupils aged 12-13 in order to win them a place at the country's selective private schools, is to be phased out in 18 months.
The test challenges children on 11 academic subjects, including maths, science, history, modern foreign languages and classics.
It was introduced in 1904, in order to discern which children were intelligent and hard-working enough to win a place at exclusive schools such as Radley and Harrow.
Some have said that this move may make fee-paying prep schools defunct, as private secondary schools start to recruit from state primaries.
Westminster and St Paul's School have recently launched schemes to accept students from state school backgrounds.
Chris King, head of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools, which represents more than 600 schools, told the Sunday Times: "The traditional use of Common Entrance as an entrance exam where a whole long list of subjects ranging from maths to languages and science are taken by the candidates is virtually over... There are various ideas being floated [about what prep schools will teach in the future] including the idea of some project-based work."
See also: Preparatory Schools
Private schools say abolition would be vote-loser
Labour has backed plans for private schools to lose tax benefits and be "integrated" into the state sector.
But Fiona Boulton, chairwoman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), said that shutting down private schools was "based on ignorance and the desire to damage".
The challenge from the HMC comes as it begins its annual conference in London.
It follows Labour's decision to close down the independent school sector - including calls for their assets to be "redistributed".
There has been an angry reaction from private-school leaders - and Mrs Boulton, head of Guildford High School, will tell the conference that Labour has misjudged the public mood.
The HMC will publish its own survey findings, a ComRes poll of more than 2,000 people in England, Wales and Scotland, showing 68% support the principle of parents being able to pay for private education.
Independent schools have argued that if they were put out of business, it would mean state schools would have to find funding and places for those extra pupils.
Read more at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-49857748