Schools abandon exclusion of sixth-formers after parents complain

Angry parents are forcing across England to rethink controversial policies used to force pupils out of courses midway through their sixth-form years, after the practice was exposed by the Guardian and declared unlawful by the government.

At least three schools have already abandoned their policy after parents complained, while a string of others are considering amending policies that required pupils to achieve set targets in order to continue from year 12 to year 13.

One of those that has dropped the requirement is Fortismere, a popular comprehensive in north London, that used to be run by Aydin Önaç, head of St Olave’s grammar school in Kent, where the illegal practice was first exposed.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said her daughter had been told she could not continue into year 13 at Fortismere school in Muswell Hill, London. But after she had consulted lawyers, she was told the decision had been reversed in the last week.

“The main reason my daughter has been allowed to come back is because the policy on which the school’s decision was based is absolutely illegal. The decision was reversed in 24 hours following receipt of my solicitor’s email. She is now getting the help she needs,” the parent said.

A spokesperson for the school confirmed to the Guardian that students who wished to stay on would be allowed to do so: “Our key focus is doing what is best for our students. In line with the school’s admissions policy, all students who underperform at AS are offered a guidance meeting to discuss the most suitable pathway. All students who wished to remain at Fortismere this year have done so.”

Dan Rosenberg, a lawyer representing the St Olave’s parents, said his firm Simpson Millar had been contacted by numerous parents with children at schools implementing similar policies, although he noted that most of them were “less extreme”.



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