A-level places dispute pupils to return to their school

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Sixth formers excluded from a school because they did not get at least B grades at AS-level will be allowed to return, their lawyer has confirmed.

Pupils at St Olave’s in Orpington, south-east London, were told they could not progress to take their A-levels.

Parents had begun legal action over the policy, but now the school has backed down, according to their lawyer.

St Olave’s is one of England’s top-performing grammar schools, with places decided on academic ability.

‘Flourish and achieve’

Dan Rosenberg, a lawyer for Simpson Millar solicitors who has been acting for the families, confirmed by email on Friday evening that the school had reversed its position.

He said he was “pleased the school has agreed to readmit the children and withdraw their policy”.

“We would now expect all other schools with similar policies to do the same,” he said.

In a statement issued by the Diocese of Rochester, the school said: “Following a review of the school’s policy on entry to Year 13, the headmaster and governors of St Olave’s grammar school have taken the decision to remove this requirement and we have today written to all parents of pupils affected to offer them the opportunity to return to the school and continue their studies.

“Our aim as a school has been and continues to be to nurture boys who flourish and achieve their full potential academically and in life generally.

“Our students can grow and flourish, making the very best of their talents to achieve success.”

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Image caption

Ninety-six percent of pupils at St Olave’s got grades A-B at A-level

St Olave’s leadership and governing body had declined to comment publicly.

Parents contested whether pupils who had been admitted to the lower sixth should be stopped from continuing into the upper sixth and taking their A-levels.

They had claimed that preventing pupils from continuing into the upper sixth year was in effect an exclusion – and that it was unlawful for a school to exclude a pupil on the grounds of a lack of academic progress.

Parents had accused the school of behaving like “an exam factory”, focusing on league table results at the expense of students’ education and welfare.

This year’s A-level results at St Olave’s saw 75% of all grades being awarded at A* or A and 96% were at A* to B grades, far above the national average.

Jo Johnson, Conservative MP for Orpington and minister for universities and science, had previously said that it was hard to see how the exclusions were in students’ interests and said he had raised the issue with school standards minister Nick Gibb.

After the decision to readmit students, Mr Johnson tweeted: “Sensible move by St Olave’s – a great school.”

In a statement, the Department for Education said: “All schools have a responsibility to provide a high quality education to every pupil and ensure there is no limit to their potential. Students enrolled in a sixth form cannot be removed because of academic ability.

“The law is clear on this and we expect all schools to follow it. We will be taking action to remind headteachers of their responsibility on this point.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41132701

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