Introducing six-hour entrance assessments in foreign colleges

Gayathri | Friday, October 7, 2016 11:48 AM IST

Leading independent schools are changing their admissions tactics and introducing six-hour entrance assessments in order to see through 'over-tutored' pupils, it has emerged.

Brighton College, Wellington College and Westminster are among those who are changing the way year-six students are examined in order to differentiate between the most naturally able and those who have received the most help.

It comes after a number of head teachers have expressed concern that tutoring means children act like 'performing animals' just to gain a place at a top school.

Earlier this month the Government announced it was seeking to introduce 'tutor-proof' tests as it plans to expand the number of grammar schools.

The changes including a six hour interview process as opposed to the traditional hour, which head teachers believe will allow the child to relax and their real personality to shine through.

James Dahl, director of admissions at Wellington College, said that the old process had “reduced the admissions process to jumping through such narrow hoops” and it was little wonder parents tried to play the system by employing tutors.

Writing in Attain, the magazine of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, he said: 'What many parents also fail to realise is that spending money on a tutor can be a false economy. It is relatively simple to spot a tutored candidate and it usually counts against them if a senior school feels they are not engaging with the genuine child on an assessment day or interview.

'At my own school, we have spent the last three years redesigning our 13+ admissions process and now place significant emphasis on collaborative, problem-solving activities for which no preparation can be done in order to allow candidates to set aside their 'tutored selves' and show as many sides of their character and personality as possible.'

A spokesman for Brighton College said that they believed that the longer interviews allowed teachers to “spend more time with each candidate to really get to know their personalities.”

He said: 'It is not enough for the child to pass tests, we are also looking for kindness, the ability to work well with their peers and the understanding that coming to Brighton involves a lot of community work and thinking about people outside the school and how you can help where help is needed.'

Other similar schools are becoming more imaginative in the tests they give pupils to 'break the ice'.