Shropshire selective school to admit more boys from deprived areas in £2.6million overhaul
A Shropshire selective school is to throw open its doors to boys from deprived areas of the borough in a £2.6m overhaul of its approach to equality of opportunity.
Haberdashers’ Adams’ Grammar School in Newport has been given a huge windfall from the Government’s Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF), designed for schools that can prove they are serious about improving access for disadvantaged pupils and helping them achieve their potential.
It has meant a green light for a new building at the school’s traditional home near the centre of Newport, and will also see boys from disadvantaged areas around Telford & Wrekin getting to the front of the queue in a shake-up to the selection process.
Headteacher Gary Hickey said it was the realisation of his ambition to make the school more inclusive.
“It’s very exciting, it’s been a long time coming. It’s the biggest expansion of the school in its 400 year history," he said.
“There will be a new teaching building on our current grounds which will mean we will be able to increase our numbers.”
Construction is to begin on the new building in the next few weeks.
The first new additions will join next year. Thirty boys will make up a new Year 7 group.
That first cohort will progress through the school and be followed by others, meaning that after five years, there will be an extra 150 boys at the school – 30 in each school year group.
And those boys will come from areas of Telford & Wrekin that previously have not sent many children to grammar schools – the selection process is being transformed so that boys from the most deprived areas in north and central Telford will be given priority.
The school intends to use something called the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which measures deprivation relating to low income.
Primary schools in deprived areas around Telford & Wrekin have been identified and boys from these schools who apply and pass the entry test will be given priority over pupils from anywhere in the country.
'Levelling the playing field'
More than 30 primary schools have been marked out in areas around north and central Telford, encompassing Wrockwardine Wood, Leegomery, Wombridge and more.
Mr Hickey said: “We used that [IDACI] and we worked alongside Telford & Wrekin Council. When I became head here six years ago I wanted to change the admission policy. I was very aware that Adams had become a little bit isolated from its local community.”
Five years ago, the average number of boys who would join the school from primary schools in the Newport area was six a year, he said.
Although that number has since improved, Mr Hickey said he wanted to make things fairer for all children in the borough and reach out beyond Newport.
“I didn’t think that was fair, or representative of the abilities of the children in those exceptional schools," he added.
“I think a school should be part of its community.
“Fundamentally, this is about levelling the playing field. We have to strive for it to be the fairest it can be.”
More information will be made available for those taking the test too, to make it easier for every boy to show his potential.
Registration for the 2021 Year 7 entrance exam has been extended to 4pm on September 10. The test itself has been delayed until October.
To learn more, visit adamsgs.uk/.
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