Grammar school appeals process branded a joke by angry parents
THE grammar school appeal process has been branded a farce after able children were "unfairly" refused a place and a "confusing" letter was sent to parents.
Two families from Kemsing claim their children, who scored highly in the 11-plus, have been pushed down the waiting list for places at the Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys after 10 boys who had not passed the test were added to the list.
Tom Le Sbirel, 11, of Old Barn Close, and Nathaniel Pugh, of Park Lane, have instead been allocated Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone.
Their parents have now hit out against the decision by the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) for the Tunbridge Wells school.
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Head teacher John Harrison explained that the 10 additional boys could not be placed on the waiting list in March because they did not have a "grammar assessment" – or a pass at the 11-plus.
But now the IAP has decided they are suitable for the school and they have since been added to the waiting list.
The oversubscription criteria has now been applied to them in the same way as it is to other boys, meaning if they live closer to the school they will take priority.
Mr Harrison said: "People are quite reasonably upset. I have great sympathy for those involved."
Meanwhile, a separate set of Sennockian mums and dads were left baffled by a letter sent from the IAP which appeared to turn their children down, even though they were actually successful and had won their appeal to gain entry to the school.
A mother from Riverhead – who wished to remain anonymous – received the letter.
She said: "It quite clearly says no to my son getting a place and then it says, yes, he does have a place. I called Kent County Council, who were quite apologetic."
Mr Harrison explained the word "not" was used in error, creating the impression the letter was turning the child down.
He said: "I am aware that this has caused tears and a lot of frustration and anger."
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon was contacted about the letter and told the Chronicle he thought it was badly written.
He also commented on the waiting list situation at the school.
He said: "It is very, very unfair that those who have passed should be ranked lower than those who did not. Kent County Council need to get this sorted quickly. I have contacted them myself."