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Hooray for Hillingdon

I write in my capacity as chair of the Hillingdon Association of Secondary Headteachers which consists of the heads of all the schools in the borough with pupils of secondary age. My colleagues and I reject entirely the incorrect and damaging remarks attributed to Norman Nunn-Price ("Opt-out ambitions 'wreck' admission", TES, September 26)).

The facts are that: 1. The arrangements have been praised by the Audit Commission as a model of good practice; 2. The secondary schools do have to co-ordinate admission arrangements; 3. These arrangements extend to broadly common criteria for admission, a common application form and a common timetable for the receiving of applications and the making of offers; 4. There is a regular data exchange between the schools and the local authority; 5. The local authority is represented at the annual co-ordination meeting; 6. The majority of parents receive and accept offers of places by the end of January. This compares favourably with the pre-1992 situation when the local authority administered admissions. At that time no parent was in receipt of an offer before the end of April; 7. Most schools have the majority of their intake settled by early February - to the great benefit of induction arrangements. Again, this compares favourably with the local authority-administered model when schools rarely received lists before July, and which were often inaccurate or incomplete; 8. Appeals are generally concluded by the end of March; 9. The fact that some parents have no choice of school is due entirely to the action of the council in removing secondary places.

Hillingdon secondary schools - whether grant-maintained, voluntary-aided or local authority - do have a perhaps unique record of co-operation and the promotion of common initiatives and developments. It would be refreshing were this to receive the acknowledgement that it deserves.

P D Targett

Chairman Hillingdon Association of Secondary Headteachers Harlington Community School Pinkwell Lane Hayes, Middlesex

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