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Independent schools shake up admissions to weed out 'over-tutored' students

28/09/2016 Joanna

Leading independent schools across the UK are seeking to revise their admissions processes to help them identify students who have been given extensive tutoring.

A Telegraph report has named Brighton College, Wellington College and Westminster among the schools that are making changes to the way they examine year six students in order to help them separate the most naturally gifted pupils from those who have simply received the most help and preparation.

Concerns have been raised that the previous admissions system had essentially been reduced to a series of hoops to jump through, creating a situation whereby better-off parents could rig the odds in their children's favour by employing tutors to specifically prepare them for exams.

This month, the government pledged to introduce tutor-proof tests as part of its plans to expand the number of grammar schools, with changes including a new six-hour interview process that will allow children to relax and demonstrate their real personalities. Some schools will also be introducing surprise topics for which students will have no opportunity to prepare.

A spokesman for Brighton College said longer examinations make it easier to get a sense of the child's temperament, good nature and cooperative spirit, while reducing the amount of influence a parent or tutor can have on their performance.

Meanwhile, director of admissions at Wellington College James Dahl wrote in Attain, the magazine of the Independent Association of Prep Schools: "What many parents 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."

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