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Bank says no to opt-out booklet

The Trustee Savings Bank has removed its sponsorship of a booklet written by the Grant Maintained Schools Centre, and wants its name deleted from remaining stocks.

The bank said yes to the centre when approached to sponsor The Grant-Maintained Option - the root to choice and diversity. The booklet includes such advice as suggesting that when two or more schools seek to opt out, they arrange meetings on the same night to make it more difficult for the local authority to put up speakers.

In a letter to the bank's chairman, Sir Nicholas Goodison, Martin Rogers, of Local Schools Information (LSI), an organisation opposed to opting out, warned that certain parts of the booklet could contravene the code of practice on GM information issued by the Department for Education and Employment.

Mr Rogers also wrote: "I am sure that you must be aware of the highly contentious and political dimensions of the GM issue. In view of the nature of the document, it is surprising to find a bank sponsoring it and therefore, by implication, endorsing its contents."

A number of schools and local education authorities considered changing their bank accounts in protest. The TSB was lobbied by members of Parents Opposed to Opting-out (POO), and several LEAs.

David Stewart, the TSB's commercial banking director, has now written to LSI and POO saying: "We are active in all sectors of education and we would not wish to align, or appear to align, ourselves with any specific type of education system.

"We do not feel that we are in a position to comment on the content of the brochure. However, recognising the sensitivity of the issues involved we have concluded our sponsorship and arranged for our name to be removed from the remaining stock of booklets."

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