Prince George's new headmaster hits out at 11-plus exam as he says testing children distracts them from 'wonders of the world'

Robert Verkaik
Thomas's Battersea.  Prince George is to attend the private school in September - PA

The headmaster at Prince George's new private school has criticised the 11 plus exam and said that subjecting children to tests distracts them from "the wonders of the world". 

Ben Thomas, headmaster of private day school Thomas's in Battersea, where Prince George will start in September, says he is opposed to the 11-plus system, which is used to select pupils for grammars and other schools.

In an interview with West London magazine the Resident, the highly-respected headmaster expressed his concern over the pressures of the 11-plus, which he said placed too much focus on box-ticking.

The sign outside Thomas's Battersea in London after it was announced that Prince George is to attend the private school in September. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

He said: "The exam reduces everything to English, Maths and reasoning, at an age where children’s minds ought to be being opened to the wonders of the world, and to the fascinating possibilities of science.

"I’m not a huge fan of the 11-plus process at all, and I wish we could find a better way."

Mr Thomas has decided to step down from the headship and won't be teaching at the school by the time Prince George arrives.

He will be replaced in September by Simon O’Malley, who is currently headmaster at Wellesley House School.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced last year that the Government would lift the ban on new grammar schools. 

Traditionally 11-plus exams were used to determine whether children would get into grammar school, a controversial system which was criticised for putting too much pressure on children at a young age. 

Prince George will attend the school in September Credit: POOL/REUTERS

Mr Thomas' interview with the magazine was republished this week after first appearing in October.

Thomas's sends most of its boys to Eton, St Paul's or King's Wimbledon.

Mr Thomas said he preferred the 13 plus system, used by many private schools including Eton and Marlborough. 

Also known as "common entrance", exams at 13 plus are more wide-ranging and can include subjects such as classical Greek, History, Latin and religious studies. 

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