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Parental ballot choice upheld

A comprehensive school in John Major's constituency is to opt out next month after a six-month wrangle over the ballot result.

Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, has given Arthur Mellows Village College in Peterborough the go-ahead for grant-maintained status, despite admitting that governors gave parents misleading information. The school anticipates opting out from the beginning of December.

Gilmour McLaren, chairman of governors, said: "We have been ready for transition since September 1, which was the target date for the change of status, and we now look forward to proceeding with our long-delayed plans. "

Parents voted two to one in favour of the school going GM more than six months ago. But Cambridgeshire County Council and a group of parents opposed to opting out registered objections at the same time, accusing school governors of issuing misleading information before the ballot.

Department for Education and Employment officials told governors the school could opt out by September, but it was effectively left in limbo pending a decision by Mrs Shephard. Permission was finally received this week when she decided to uphold the result of the parental ballot.

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