A leading headteacher has warned parents that 'hot-housed' middle-class children often struggle at secondary school after being tutored through selective 11-plus exams.
Christopher Ray, the chairman of the Headmasters and Headmistresses' Conference, said many children are left floundering once they pass their entrance exams and get into their chosen school.
He warned that relying on extra tuition to help children pass the 11-plus or Common Entrance test could leave them struggling to keep up with their more academically able classmates in the long term.
"At 11 it's very hard [to select], so mistakes are made," Dr Ray told the Sunday Telegraph. "You have to ask the question of whether students are going to make it into the sixth form at 16. The saddest thing of all is to get it wrong. Why is that mistake made? One of the possible reasons is that the pupils have been over-tutored, hot-housed for the entrance exam and progressively cannot cope."
Dr Ray – who is the headteacher at Manchester Grammar School called for entrance exams for selective schools to be axed because so many students are being intensively coached for them outside of school.
He suggested that university style assessment days, where children could be monitored for longer periods, would be a better option.
"Entrance exams are almost the worst way to select students academically," he said. "They don't really get to the heart of pupils' potential. They don't really tell you how that pupil thinks and almost all of them can be tutored for, which gives a very unfair advantage to those who are tutored."
He added that while some headteachers were of the opinion that a 15 or 20-minute interview could be 'corrective' for giving a true impression of the student, he disagreed:
"Pupils are also being tutored for interviews," he said.
More on Parentdish: Tutoring