Parents’ fury over Redbridge 11 plus exam ‘fiasco’

Parents are furious at Redbridge Council after “hundreds” of students were barred from an exam to get into the borough’s grammar schools.

Students who live outside the Redbridge “common catchment area” reportedly found out days before the 11 Plus exam on November 21 that their place in the exam hall was cancelled.

One parent accused the council of a “fiasco”, adding there were many children with no invitation letter just days before the test or whose letter listed their sex wrong.

The “common catchment area” for the borough’s grammar schools covers the entirety of Redbridge and some parts of neighbouring boroughs, mostly to the north and west.

Redbridge Council told a parent on Twitter yesterday (November 18) that pupils from outside this area would now be tested on December 5.

Nichola Lashmar tweeted at Redbridge Council: “I would like to make public the FIASCO you have made of the arrangements for 11plus.

“Many parents with no invite letter two days before the test and incorrect gender on most letters. Admin teams phones off the hook. Where is my child’s letter? She is fretting.”

Essex GP Priya Jay said some students had their place cancelled “just four days prior to the exam”, adding: “These kids’ dreams are devastated.”

Responding to a parent on Twitter, a Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “There is no appeal process for this decision, which we were required to make in unprecedented times to ensure the well-being of children and their families.

“A further email will be issued to all parents of out of Common Catchment Area applicants soon.”

To another parent, they later added: “All out of Common Catchment Area parents have been emailed today to advise that their children will be tested on the late test date on December 5, 2020.”

The council’s website states: “Due to the current COVID-19 situation, this year will be very different to previous years.

“All Redbridge Year 6 candidates will sit the test at a Redbridge Primary school, which may be the school they are currently on roll at.

“All other candidates within the Common Catchment Area will be tested at the two Redbridge grammar schools – girls at Woodford County High School and boys at Ilford County High School.”

Redbridge Council was asked for a statement on its arrangements for the 11 Plus exam on November 4.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter