Essex

Chelmsford grammar schools consider catchment change

Two Essex grammar schools may introduce a catchment area limit because some of its students travelling in from long distances were struggling to keep up.

King Edward VI Grammar School (Kegs) and Chelmsford County High School for Girls are proposing giving priority to pupils within a 12.5 mile (20km) radius

Kegs said it was consulting on the plan to ensure a minimum of 90 of its 112 intake came from within that area.

The schools currently take children based on their 11-plus rankings.

In a letter to parents, Kegs said about 40% of its current intake lived further afield than its proposed limit, almost double the case in 2009.

'Really struggle'

The head teacher of Chelmsford High School for Girls, Nicole Chapman, said the impact on some of the pupils travelling long distances had been noticeable.

She said: "There are girls who are getting up really early in the morning who struggle through the day.

"[Imagine] if you're an 11-year-old getting up at half past five in the morning, travelling for sometimes an hour and a half and the same journey back.

"The pacing in our lessons is pretty intensive, fast and challenging, and some of them really struggle."

Mrs Chapman added many of those children were also missing out on after-school activities.

She said: "We've seen an impact on after school music and drama groups, we don't think this is right for the girls to not be as fully involved."

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers in Essex, believed it was important the pupils felt part of the community that the school served.

He said: "A 10-minute walk to school as opposed to a 90-minute trial on public transport is always preferable."

Consultation with parents ends at the end of February and, if agreed, the changes would affect admissions for 2013.

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