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St Olave’s Grammar School faces legal action after booting students off A-level courses

PUBLISHED: 12:16 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:14 30 August 2017

St Olave's Grammar School

St Olave's Grammar School

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A-level results were announced earlier this month

Legal action is being pursued after an Orpington grammar school stopped students from taking their A-levels next year.

Simpson Millar solicitors have initiated judicial review proceedings against the governing body of St Olave’s Grammar School after two students were told they could not continue their A-level studies into Year 13.

Orpington’s MP Jo Johnson said he was “concerned” over the decision.

The pupils, who cannot be named for legal reasons, failed to achieve Bs in any of their subjects taken in the first year of sixth form, lawyers said.

Days ago they were told they could return to the school but only to study a BTEC in health and social care.

The highly-selective school, which will start its new term on September 5, is said to operate a three-pronged policy to “maintain its exceptional A-level results”.

Year 12 pupils will normally have gained three Bs or higher if they wish to complete their studies in Year 13, the school’s sixth form rules and regulations state.

An email sent to the school’s Year 12 tutors in June said that pupils who scored a C would not be able to pursue that subject through to A-level.

If a student scored a C, they must sign an agreement that the school reserves the right not to enter them for A-level examinations in any subject in which it is considered they will not score a B or above.

The claimants are contesting the policy on the grounds that it does not “safeguard and promote the welfare of the children at the school, and is irrational”.

It is unlawful, they say, because “the school does not have the power to exclude pupils between Year 12 and Year 13 due to an alleged lack of academic progression”.

Dan Rosenberg, the lawyer acting for the families, said: “These proceedings will hopefully assist others who may be affected now and/or in the future by the school’s policies and practices.

“We hope that the governing body will now reconsider the policy and its application, and further that the children affected can return to their A-level studies at the start of term with their peers.”

The Department for Education said it would not comment while legal proceedings were ongoing.

Jo Johnson, Orpington MP, said: “St Olave’s is a highly selective school and I obviously have no problem with having a GCSE entry requirement for a sixth form – but once pupils are in on that basis, it is surely for the school to push them to do well, not to throw them out, unless their behaviour is bad.

“I have raised my concern with schools minister Nick Gibb MP and also with St Olave’s headmaster Aydin Önaç and will be following this closely in coming weeks.”

Bromley council, which is listed as an interested party at the boys’ grammar, referred queries to the school which has so far failed to respond to requests for comment.

A hearing to determine whether a judicial review will be granted is due to take place on September 20.

If granted, the hearing will proceed that day.

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