School reprimanded by admissions watchdog for giving priority to sons of “old boys”

A grammar school has been censured by the admissions watchdog after giving priority for places to the “sons of old boys of the school”.

The Royal Grammar School, in High Wycombe, has been told to amend its admissions code after the Office of the Schools Adjudicator was called in to investigate.

The school – which charges up to £14,000 per year for boarding pupils – was reprimanded for the seventh clause of its oversubscription criteria which gave priority to sons of former pupils.

Part 1.9 of the admissions code states admission authorities must not give priority to children according to the occupational, marital, financial or educational status of parents applying.

They must also “ensure that arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group”.

Adjudicator Phil Whiffing, in his determination report, said the criterion “could not be met by sons of first generation immigrants, or indeed by boys from other families which moved into the area”.

Only one boy was admitted under the criterion in 2015 and the school has said it can’t see “any justification for it and will consider removing it”.

Mr Whiffing also said the school has recently appointed a new headteacher who was aware the admission arrangements may not comply with the code and was already working with the local authority on his concerns.

But the adjudicator also found the school reserves seven places for parents who are asked to commit to and pay for meals and optional out of school activities.

If parents did so, as part of the admissions process, it would not comply with the code.

The watchdog said by calling those seven places “day boarder” it “could be seen to be attempting to circumvent these paragraphs of the code”.

The ruling states all changes should be made by February 28 next year.

The school has been contaced for comment.

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