The Essex Educational Delivery Partnership has confirmed that parents will be able to purchase 11+ passes for their children from 2018 – the decision will mean that for the first time children will be able to bypass the 11+ examinations and attend the grammar school of their choice.

According to an official statement, the ‘regrettable but necessary’ decision will allow Essex grammar schools to fix  a huge funding gap in the face of government spending cuts, and places will start from ‘roughly £1500’ per student with sibling discounts on offer.

We contacted EEDP chairman Sir Cyril Sneer, and he said: ‘The current funding situation for our county’s grammar schools is desperate, and so we have been forced to change the way that we allocate places to pupils.’

‘We estimate that around 35% of all grammar school places will be sold to parents, while the remaining 65% will remain for the highest performers in 11+ exams to ensure that the entire system remains fair. By offering a 10% sibling discount within a 5-year period, we are making the process affordable for ordinary families.’

We asked Sir Cyril if he thought that the new 11+ system would penalise families on lower incomes, but he was adamant that charging for places would be fair.

He added: ‘Parents are already paying grossly inflated house prices just so they can live within a two-hour commute of a grammar school, so this is simply a way of ensuring that this extra money flows directly into the grammar educational system. Nobody truly wants to line an estate agent’s pocket anyway!’

In another late development, Southend News Network can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that ten Essex primary schools have been identified for a revolutionary new ‘Primary Grammar’ scheme.

If the proposals are approved in parliament, children would need to sit so-called ‘4+ examinations’ in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning before gaining access to some of the best-performing primary schools in the county.