SHOULD the 11-plus entry exam be abolished? 

That is the question being asked by Caroline Derbyshire, chief executive of Saffron Academy Trust, who described the exam as "against everything we believe in in education”.

There are 11 grammar schools in Essex, all of which use selective 11-plus exams to determine if a child gets a place.

Places in these schools are highly sought after and passing the exam alone does not guarantee admission.

While 566 children of the year that started in September at Colchester Royal Grammar School were recorded as having the school as a preference, just 126 got in.

There were 628 preferences put down for King Edward VI Grammar School, with just 149 places offered.

Chelmsford County High School for Girls received 652 preferences with 180 places offered.

Exam results are significantly better than the national average.

In 2022, more than 44 per cent of A levels at KEGS received the very top A* grade, nearly 78 per cent were at A* or A grade and over 93 per cent were at A*-B.

Nationally about one in seven entries (14.6 per cent) were awarded an A*, 36.4 per cent of entries awarded an A or A*.

Ms Derbyshire, who used to be head teacher of Saffron Walden County High School, will be joined by Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC and Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, at the launch event in London.

She said: “I think it’s ridiculous to give children a test at the age of 11. It’s ridiculous for all sorts of reasons. One is children mature at different stages, secondly it creates this notion that you are a failure.

“For 75 per cent of children going away thinking they’re a failure when they’re only 11, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

“And I think that we’ve moved a long way away from saying that you are defined by your last test.

“We know that children continue to improve and that the sky’s the limit if their teachers believe in them. And that system goes against everything that we believe in in education.”

The Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE) 11 plus exam is used to decide whether a child will be granted admission to one of 10 grammar schools and was created to avoid the need to take multiple exams for school selection.

Consisting of two papers, the CSSE 11 plus test assesses Key Stage 2 English and maths. The papers are created by the consortium themselves.