In revealing the appalling treatment of children forced out by a top grammar school, a new report has highlighted the broader problem of ‘off-rolling’
An independent inquiry has laid bare both the callousness of policies which forced pupils out of a highly selective state school, and their downright illegality. St Olave’s, a grammar school in Orpington, south-east London, treated its students as “collateral damage”, the scathing report commissioned by Bromley council has found. The lengths to which it went to uphold and burnish its reputation for academic excellence are extraordinary and would be absurd if not so damaging to the children affected. But the case is not an anomaly; instead, it lies at the extreme end of a much more widespread problem.
The scandal emerged when the Guardian revealed that teenagers had been pushed out of the school halfway through the sixth form after failing to get top grades in end-of-year exams, leaving them distraught and struggling to find places to finish their A-levels. It was illegal to withdraw these places on academic grounds at this stage. Faced with legal action by parents and embarrassing publicity, the school reversed the policy. The headteacher was suspended and then resigned.
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