The school is currently consulting on some changes to our admissions criteria for 2012. These can be found on our website. The Governors would welcome written responses to this consultation by 25th February.
Parents will be aware that the school was recently subject to an adjudication on our admissions criteria. We were pleased that the objections were dismissed and that the adjudicator considered our admissions criteria entirely lawful and proper. However, the Governors have given due consideration to some of the concerns that were raised, and wish to address them in a way that we consider to be fair and in accordance with the school’s principles.
We remain committed to a selection process based on rank order because we are convinced that this is the fairest way of allocating places. Places will therefore continue to be offered on the basis of performance in the entrance test. However, we propose to make a change to the way in which we apply this criterion. This change will help us to ensure that, within the rank order process, there is greater scope for candidates living in the London Borough of Sutton to be offered a place at Wilson’s.
Under our current system, candidates’ test papers are marked, the scores are standardised and aggregated, and the rank order is finely differentiated by up to five decimal places. This means that ties between candidates are rare, even though a number of candidates may share the same rounded score. For admissions in September 2012 and beyond, we propose grouping candidates in bands of marks, so that, for example, candidates who have marks of say 145, 146 and 147 – and who can be considered to have, for all intents and purposes, the same academic ability - will be placed in a band together. Places will then be offered on the basis of the bands.
For the vast majority of candidates this will have no effect: all of the candidates in those bands that come entirely within the total number of places to be offered will be offered a place, irrespective of where they live. We anticipate that this will account for approximately 90% of the places offered (or around 135 of the 150 places available).
The change will affect those candidates in the band within which the last place is to be offered. Within this final band:
“places will be allocated in the following order: firstly to candidates whose home address is within the London Borough of Sutton in the order of the distance of their home address measured in a straight line from the main front door of Wilson’s School; secondly to those candidates who live elsewhere in the order of the distance of their home address measured in a straight line from the main front door of Wilson’s School”.
The Governors have also decided to change the form of our entrance test.
Currently, candidates are tested in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. We have decided to remove the Verbal Reasoning test, so that from September 2011 candidates will only be tested in English and Mathematics. This is in order to ensure that the entrance test playing field is as level as possible for all candidates, regardless of any social advantage or disadvantage they may have.
Although we discourage coaching for the entrance test, we are aware that many candidates are coached. We have therefore come to the view that our test should include only elements that are familiar to all candidates. Candidates whose parents cannot afford or do not wish to provide for coaching may be in the position of never having seen a Verbal Reasoning paper before the test, and are arguably at a disadvantage, whereas all candidates are regularly taught and assessed in English and Mathematics in their primary school.
Our English and Mathematics papers will also be in a form that is as close as is practicable to that familiar to candidates from their Key Stage 2 experience. The content of the tests will continue to be based on the content of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum for English and Mathematics.