The grammar school revealed to be systematically pushing pupils out halfway through the sixth form has dramatically backed down and said that all affected pupils will be able to rejoin the school next week without conditions.
Pressure from parents taking legal action and media coverage following the Guardian’s revelations has seen St Olave’s grammar school in Orpington, south-east London, change its stance and drop its stringent academic requirements, which had seen pupils who had not achieved top marks being abruptly told to leave midway though their A-level courses.
The affair has lifted a lid on the possibly illegal practice designed to boost a school’s league table position, carried out at a number of high-achieving schools across England, despite #schools being unable to exclude pupils for reasons other than behaviour. Friday’s development will put pressure on other schools which follow the same practice to reconsider their policies.
St Olave’s leadership and governing body have declined to respond or comment publicly since the Guardian’s revelations were first published this week. But on Friday evening a statement was finally issued on the school’s behalf by the diocese of Chichester.
“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 explain this and offer them the opportunity to return to the school and continue their studies,” it said.
“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.”
A number of parents and pupils among those affected at St Olave’s said they remained unhappy that the school had imposed the policy under its controversial headteacher, Aydin Önaç, and that they were unlikely to return when the new term starts on Monday, despite the climbdown.