Anger as report on grammars gathers dust

27th April 2007 at 01:00
GRAMMAR SCHOOLS remain an active concern for thousands of parents in areas such as Kent, where campaigners are still pushing to abolish academic selection.

However, a Freedom of Information Act request by The TES has revealed that ministers have not considered a report they commissioned on grammar schools that was completed more than a year ago. The discovery has angered anti-selection campaigners and some MPs.

Two years ago the Commons education select committee looked into the regulations surrounding ballots that can be held to scrap grammar schools.

They found that the system, which has never been used successfully since its introduction in 1998, did not work and they recommended a study into "more appropriate" arrangements.

The TES has established the Department for Education and Skills commissioned that study, The Result of 11 Plus Selection, which was delivered in March 2006. But more than 12 months later, ministers have yet to consider it.

Barry Sheerman, the select committee chairman, said: "This is astonishing.

As soon as I get hold of the document, I shall raise it with ministers, because this is not good enough."

Martin Frey is a founder member of Stop the 11 Plus, which has been trying to use the existing balloting system to abolish Kent's selective system without success every year since its introduction. "This confirms the fact that since 1997 Labour has been working, against the wishes of its membership, to preserve grammar schools at all costs," he said.

A fifth of the parents in an authority must sign a petition before a vote can be held on the future of its grammar schools. In Kent, campaigners would have to collect about 50,000 signatures.

Mr Frey's group collected 7,000 in 1999 and are confident they would get at least the same support today. But they believe hurdles such as the need to include the signatory's address, name of child and school attended, make the final goal unachievable.

* 'The Result of 11 Plus Selection' is by Adele Atkinson, Paul Gregg and Brendon McConnell

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