GRAMMAR schools in Southend will be asked to make sure poorer pupils have the chance to pass the 11-plus and gain a place.

Southend Council set out a seven-point pledge for more pupils from the borough’s primary schools to pass the 11-plus after a series of exposes by the Echo.

The new councillor responsible for children and learning has also pledged to discuss access for poorer children, as only 1-in-16 grammar school pupils qualifies for free school meals.

Labour councillor Anne Jones said: “Through our seven-point pledge, wewill be continuing with this challenge and will be talking with the four grammar schools in Southend to ensure the excellent work they are already undertaking to support able and gifted pupils is also reaching those who are eligible for free school meals.”

The Echo revealed just 1-in-10 Southend pupils pass the 11-plus and only 197 were offered places at a grammar this school year.

Under the new pledge, primary school governors will be expected to monitor what secondary schools pupils apply to and get into.

The council will also “challenge”

primary schools on their use of a £953-a-year topup per poorer pupil, known as the “pupil premium”.

Mrs Jones, who was on the working party that developed the pledge, said: “This council wants every young person to achieve the best academic and vocational results they can and we have supported families and schools to make the 11-plus more accessible to all children.”

Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend High School for Boys, said: “Southend High School for Boys is for any boy who will thrive in an academic environment and is ready to respond to our challenges.

“This school is within reach. We celebrate students who achieve highly when life outside school is challenging.

“It is always very rewarding when our teachers see outstanding results, or a place at a leading university, for a student from a relatively disadvantaged home.”