A year 12 student in a selective state school (and I'm sure there are many more) has been refused admission into Year 13 on the grounds that their AS level grades, obtained this year, are not good enough to proceed to A levels.
A few points of deep concern:
1. The student is able and well behaved with a good attendance record. So, this is not a case of lack of ability or poor/disruptive behaviour.
2. The student was given no warning and his family were not contacted at any stage during the year and/or asked to come in to discuss their child's lack of progress.
3. Although the family has been extremely supportive, they do not have the social/cultural capital of the majority of parents with children at this school. Moreover, their child is the first in the family to have obtained a place in a grammar school and to proceed on to AS levels. There is no money for private tuition. Should this not be taken into account as part of the school's duty of care?
4. The student was given a list of other schools 'who might be able to take them.' This suggests that this is therefore not a financial issue for the sixth form in this school. And why is it OK for the school to avoid responsibility for this student by passing them on to another school?
That the school wants to reject all students who cannot guarantee them excellent grades is understandable if we believe that the sole purpose of schools is league tables and top grades (which most of us don't).
A primary purpose of education has also to be about managing failure. Students have to be encouraged and allowed to take risks, experiment with new ideas and try new subject disciplines. It is of deep concern to this country's future creativity and innovation if schools are just about conformance and safe choices.
It is also deeply concerning that some 'outstanding' schools are rated outstanding on their pass rates (we know that large numbers of students are privately tutored) but not on their monitoring of the individual child.