Bucks’ Grammar Schools have been accused of “replacing one discredited test with another” after reappointing an old 11-plus test provider five years after they were axed.

The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS) - the company set up by the 13 grammar schools in the county to manage and administer the 11-plus testing process – say they are “very pleased” to have reached an agreement with GL Assessment to provide the new test for five years initially from 2019.

The new contracts will first apply to the tests taken in September 2018 by pupils moving into secondary school in autumn 2019.

TBGS added that the contract was awarded to GL Assessment following a “full and open” Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procurement process that was “necessary due to the impending expiry of the current contracts.”

However, TBGS has come under fire from education campaigners who say the county’s head teachers agreed in 2014 that the GL Assessment was not working but have now reintroduced the same test.

GL Assessment provided the 11-plus test for Bucks prior to 2013, before they were replaced by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) amid claims that their test was causing “significant unfairness because of its susceptibility to tutoring.”

In 2014, the current head teacher of the Royal Grammar School, Philip Wayne, told a national newspaper that he was “‘very confident’ that the new test will avoid the current situation, in which many pupils who won places at his school with the help of intensive tutoring struggle to keep up with lessons once they arrive.”

In the same article, Ros Rochefort, who was head teacher at Bledlow Ridge primary school until she retired last year was quoted as saying the old test was “widely discredited.”

Rebecca Hickman, spokesperson for campaign group Local Equal Excellent, said it was a case of “shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic” and criticised TBGS for offering “no explanation” as to why the test has been reintroduced.

She said: “The inescapable conclusion is that it is impossible to produce an 11-plus test that is not coachable, and therefore all tests will end up selecting children on the basis of social background, race and prior opportunity, not on the basis of ability.

“That is why the selective system in Bucks is intrinsically unfair and has to go.”

Full details about the new testing arrangements will be made available in November 2017, however TBGS have confirmed they will continue to assess verbal, non-verbal and mathematical skills and that children will continue to sit a practice test and then two test papers.

GL Assessment will be responsible for developing and marking the tests, while Bucks County Council will be responsible for the administration services.

Speaking about the new arrangements David Hudson, chair of TBGS said: “Following a rigorous and robust competitive procurement process I am very pleased that we have reached agreement with GL Assessment and Buckinghamshire County Council to support us with the selection process and look forward to working with both organisations over the coming years.”