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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:45 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:44 am
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How on earth has it come to this? :shock: From today's Times:

Parents are fraudulently securing grammar school places by getting older children to sit the 11-plus exam on behalf of siblings, head teachers say.

Some schools have had to introduce compulsory photo identification for children sitting the tests.

Candidates arriving for the 11-plus often appear much older than ten, according to a recently retired head of a grammar school in Kent. Andy Williamson, the former head of Wilmington Grammar School for Boys in Dartford, recalled the case of a pupil who gained a place at his school but then struggled academically.

Suspecting that the boy was “highly unlikely” to have passed the entrance test, he found the original exam paper, compared the pupil’s handwriting to his schoolwork and saw that the answers had been written by different people.

“By then he was a pupil at my school, struggling and unable to keep up with his classmates,” he said. “I raised it with Kent county council but they decided to take no further action.” He added: “If you had a family from outside the area coming to take the exam, without verified photo ID, it could well be a sibling sitting the exam for another.”


A tutor who runs an 11-plus preparation service said: “I believe it was common in Slough for siblings or cousins to take the test on behalf of a weaker candidate in their family, hence they brought in a photo ID system.”

Children in grammar school areas sit 11-plus tests this autumn. There are 163 of the schools in Britain, and some candidates take the exams miles away from their home towns. If the applications are successful, families move house or arrange for their child to commute. A recent baby boom filtering through to secondary schools is tightening the competition for places.

Theresa May has pledged £50 million to help grammar schools to expand, although by law no new ones can open. Oversubscribed grammars have to allow children from any part of the country to sit their entrance exams in case places are available after local children have been accommodated.

Edward Wesson, head of The Skinners’ School, in Tunbridge Wells, said that the system was “at risk of imposters” and “certainly open to abuse”, adding: “In September we hosted 170 out-of-county candidates who almost exclusively came from southeast London.” He backed calls for tighter controls against cheating and pupils being asked to bring proof of identity.

Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads’ Association, said: “In some areas . . . what quite a lot are now doing is asking for a photo to be attached to the form which is countersigned or verified by the primary school. It overcomes the problem of some children not having passports.

“There are concerns in a very small number of cases . . . and something we want to nip in the bud.”

Mr Skinner said that many grammars tried to give priority to at least some children from disadvantaged back- grounds and suggested that requiring photographic evidence could discourage that, by creating an extra burden for disadvantaged families.

The Slough consortium of grammar schools says on its website: “Registrations will not be complete unless the photograph of your child is uploaded.”

A spokesman for Kent county council said: “We must consider the impact of any actions on children sitting the test . . . We believe that it would be disproportionate to require children to present some form of ID. Those from poorer families may not have passports or other photo ID and even if these were available, they last for several years and may not present as a likeness to the child and may also look like older siblings. Handwriting is unique . . . a place would be withdrawn if it was felt it had been secured fraudulently.”


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
It doesn't surprise me. Photo identification isn't infallible, either. Let's face it, who is most likely to look like your 10-year old son? His older brother, of course.

When people are prepared to spend thousands of pounds on tutoring, taking time off work to travel to various test centres and moving or renting houses to improve their chances of securing a place, identity fraud is a relatively cheap and easy advantage to secure for some people.

Just make it easier for everyone and have the grammar schools auction their places to the highest bidders. That's effectively what's happening in many places anyway.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:58 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
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Location: Herts
A teacher at a fully selective school I know of told me that every year they had students in Y7 who could not possibly have passed the entrance exam.

Once they introduced photo id the problem ended.

4 photos can be purchased in the booths for £4 so it is hardly a disadvantage to poorer families.

For some families nothing is more important than gaining a place at a grammar school. They seem to think the word grammar equals magic,

It is no surprise the length they are prepared to go to. We already know that parents lie about where they are living to get into a school.

Fab comment from a member of the team at Birmingham council assigned to identify those who are trying to cheat the system. " We help parents to decide where they are living."

DG


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:00 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:24 am
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Sad to see this news today.

With the amount of investments going into the selection tests, it wouldn’t be difficult to collect a photo from the OOC candidates sitting the tests and print them on the test result report. At least, collecting a photo may stop the parents taking the wrong route and most importantly stop them ruining kids’ lives regardless of their IQ levels.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:03 am 
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I agree taking a photo at the time of the test may be the answer, who is to stop the parents sending in a vaguely blurred photo of the sibling / relly who takes the test and then another child turns up on the day to start year 7


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:06 am 
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Daogroupie wrote:
4 photos can be purchased in the booths for £4 so it is hardly a disadvantage to poorer families.

DG


Very sorry, DG, but this shows that you are rather out of touch. For many of the parents I used to deal with, £4 would be the difference between them eating or not - and may well have been the difference between their children eating or not. Yes. For some families it really is that tight. I knew of families of 4 who, after rent/bills etc had not much more than £20-£30 a week to spend on food and household expendables.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:07 am 
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Hopefully in West Kent the introduction of Skinners' new catchment area from 2019 will reduce the volumes of OOC boys trying to cheat the system in this way - it makes my blood boil to think that parents are being so devious and depriving others of a place via these means. KCC should note these very valid concerns the article raises in their upcoming review of the whole test structure, provider and process - it's appalling.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:12 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
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Location: Reading
kenyancowgirl wrote:
Daogroupie wrote:
4 photos can be purchased in the booths for £4 so it is hardly a disadvantage to poorer families.

DG


Very sorry, DG, but this shows that you are rather out of touch. For many of the parents I used to deal with, £4 would be the difference between them eating or not - and may well have been the difference between their children eating or not. Yes. For some families it really is that tight. I knew of families of 4 who, after rent/bills etc had not much more than £20-£30 a week to spend on food and household expendables.


I was going to make a similar comment but you’ve got there before me.
As a child I saw my mother go without food so my sister and I could. £4 is a huge amount to some.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:45 am 
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I had to send my DS to his Kirklees exam with photo ID. I paid 99p for 9 passport sized photos so have another 8 at home!

They kept the photo on the form so I assume they will use it to check if they suspect all is not right when the children start next Sept?

We also sat exams in Calderdale and no ID/photo was required and there were some very tall and 'older' looking children. No catchment for that school and they had coaches bringing in kids to sit the exam! We walked to the school!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:56 am 
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I think this is heartbreaking. I can't imagine what it must be like for a child who's sent to a grammar school despite not being suited to it and having to spend years feeling academically adrift from the rest of the class.

What must it do to the child knowing that your parents thought sending you to the school was so important that they would commit fraud to send you there? And then when you arrive and struggle the pressure you must feel to try and keep up anyway, because you know how important your parents think it is?

And how awful that the parents would prefer to send a child to a GS they're manifestly unsuited to rather than considering what is actually in the best interests of their child. Just horrible.


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