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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 6:17 pm 
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I had a feeling that the new review process for appeals was just the start of it ...

Primary Heads were told around a week ago that the content of the Bucks 11+ will change for 2014, the current Y4. They have not been told what the content of the new test might be.

The grammars have all, bar BHS, become academies and they will be administering the testing process. They have to pay BCC for any services it delivers to the schools so, as was the case with the review process announced for appeals, it is cheaper to run the testing process themselves.

Meanwhile, the front page of today's Bucks Examiner:
Quote:
"11plus system under threat?
County chief fears schools "opt out" will end common selective process."


Martin Tett (Leader of BCC) said "We are no longer a truly selective county. The county council still sets the 11-plus at the moment, but in theory that could change in the future. We could see a situation where grammar schools set their own admission procedures, which means that the county council loses the control that we currently have."


Followed by predictable responses from NUT Bucks saying the the admission and testing procedures could fall apart completely, and Roy Page (Head of RGS) saying that parents don't need to worry about it because it won't happen.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 8:07 pm 
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Well as you can imagine I'm completely floored by this. :shock:

What I don't understand is, why does the content of the test have to change? If individual grammar schools decide to test for different things in the future then fine, but wouldn't there need to be more notice of such a change? Is it likely the academies might decide to stick with the current format and either hold the exam at the school or centrally?

Sorry - so many questions...mainly rhetorical, as nobody is likely to have any answers for some time... :(

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 8:31 pm 
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Marylou wrote:
Well as you can imagine I'm completely floored by this. :shock:

I have to say that I am not. The current testing process through GL Assessment is the gold standard in terms of quality, even if you disagree with the ability of VR to select fairly. The trouble with a gold standard is it costs money.

Quote:
What I don't understand is, why does the content of the test have to change?

Cost. We will undoubtedly be told that the new test content is "fairer" in some way, but ultimately the reason for the change is money.

It might be VR & NVR, but that would probably increase the cost (one reason why BCC has shied away from that option for so many years) unless there is a significantly cheaper supplier out there. There is one that I suspect is cheaper, but their reputation was in tatters a few years ago after their tests were made publicly available.

It might just be the allegedly "tutor proof" Durham CEM that has fuelled the huge growth in tutoring in Birmingham in recent years.

Then again, it might be curriculum-based testing - the "cheap as chips" option because the schools can write the paper themselves. That will play straight into the hands of wealthy middle-class parents who live close to high-performing primary schools or pay for private education. Tutors will also be rubbing their hands with glee because those same middle-class parents will not just pay for tutoring for an hour a week for a couple of terms - kids will be hot-housed from a much younger age. Oh, and Social Inclusion's new forwarding address will be "The Wilderness, Antarctica".

Quote:
If individual grammar schools decide to test for different things in the future then fine, but wouldn't there need to be more notice of such a change?
Academies, and not just in Bucks, seem to believe that they can now do exactly what they want to, when they want to. I notice that Etienne's eagle eyes have picked up on the fact that AHS has changed its admissions policy from the version that went to consultation to include the review process. The legality of doing that once a consultation period has closed is highly questionable.

Quote:
Is it likely the academies might decide to stick with the current format and either hold the exam at the school or centrally?
The Primary Heads were told very clearly that the current test content will change.

On location, my guess is that Bucks state school children, plus possibly Partner School children, will continue to be tested at their primary schools and OoC children will take the test in grammar schools at weekends.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 9:23 pm 
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Our primary school cancelled it's 11plus presentation this week and said that the reason was Bucks were going to given them information on changes coming which would change the presentation. I assumed it was the review process, but obviously not. Would they use CAT tests, or would that be too expensive? That's what BGS use for KS4 entry.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 9:51 pm 
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scary mum wrote:
Our primary school cancelled it's 11plus presentation this week and said that the reason was Bucks were going to given them information on changes coming which would change the presentation.

I have just this minute had a similar message from someone. That might refer to the review process or the change to the tests ...

Quote:
Would they use CAT tests, or would that be too expensive? That's what BGS use for KS4 entry.

I have no idea about the cost comparison, but I suspect that CATs would be much more expensive. There are three of them, for a start, rather than two 11+ tests. I did look into the cost of CATs a while back and I realised that they were not immediately affordable for all primary schools.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:26 pm 
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Sally-Anne - I used the word "floored" not from surprise but because I've got a child in Y4 and - to continue the analogy - feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under us!

Regarding cost - wouldn't it be far more expensive to develop a new testing regime from the drawing board (to be ready for rollout in just over a year, presumably :shock: ), rather than to stick to the tried-and-tested GL assessment route? Even if the testing costs are paid by the schools rather than the LEA? What's more, there would need to be some consensus among the grammar schools about the tests, or at least groups of grammar schools in the same area (north and south?), otherwise you could end up in a situation with children having to sit different tests for different schools and I can't see how that benefits anyone - schools or pupils!

Any further information that may come to your ears would be greatly appreciated...looks as though my youngest DD will be in the "guinea pig" cohort so I'll probably get started on the preparation as soon as we know what the testing involves. :roll:

Edited to add - regarding testing costs, shouldn't it be the grammar schools that pay these rather than the primaries, as it's the grammar schools that require them? Also - if it's the primaries that pay - where does that leave OOC schools?

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 7:42 am 
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Wonder whether Bucks will become opt in to do the 11+ rather than opt out if cost is more of a factor.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 8:28 am 
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I thought that they were protesting too much! :roll:
Is one of the reasons that they are not wanting to give much notice, apart from the cost issue, is maybe that they want to avoid children being tutored for it? However, that would only apply to the first year.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 8:42 am 
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Just as an aside - they changed the Slough exams a few years ago - they removed maths from the test leaving just VR and NVR. No actual notice was given, it was just by sheer luck that I noticed on the website of the school we were going to be applying to that the admissions policy blurb had changed. This was for the next round of takers, and we were well into whatever little prep we did. I think it has changed entirely the kind of people being selected.

At least if this concerns year 4 and upwards, there's some time to find out about whatever new selection tests are being brought in.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 9:30 am 
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Looking for help wrote:
At least if this concerns year 4 and upwards, there's some time to find out about whatever new selection tests are being brought in.


It would be great if everyone could keep their ear to the ground...we can all help each other by sharing any gleaned information on here. As with any new system, it's going to be hardest for the first cohort - but at least they'll all be in the same boat, I suppose. :roll:

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