Dozens of parents and pupils have contacted the Guardian complaining that schools in different areas of the country are ejecting sixth form students half way through their two-year A-level course after failing to achieve sufficiently high grades.
Some of the schools identified are in areas where there are a high number of grammar schools, including Kent, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, though non-selective schools elsewhere are also implicated.
The testimony from parents and students suggests the practice is widespread, and is having a detrimental effect on students. One student who lost their sixth form place last year described the “trauma and a feeling of not being good enough from being kicked out of your own school”.
They were responding to a Guardian callout following exclusive revelations that a leading state grammar school, St Olave’s in Orpington in the London borough of Bromley, is facing legal action from parents after their children were told their places were being withdrawn after they failed to get sufficiently good grades at the end of year 12.
Following the Guardian’s reports, MPs across the political spectrum expressed concern about the practice and its impact on students. Orpington’s Conservative MP, Jo Johnson, said he had raised the issue with the education minister as well as the head of St Olave’s.
“St Olave’s is a highly selective school and I obviously have no problem with having a GCSE entry requirement for a sixth form – but once pupils are in on that basis, it is surely for the school to push them to do well, not to throw them out (unless their behaviour is bad).
Lawyers acting for two St Olave’s families have issued judicial review proceedings after it emerged that about 16 pupils were told their places for year 13 – the last year of school – had been withdrawn after they failed to get the required three Bs either at AS level or in internal exams.
The Department for Education said it could not comment…