Ballot 'too complicated' says CASE;Grammar schools

1st October 1999 at 01:00
PARENTS across the country are preparing to jump over a series of hurdles in order to petition against selection - in a bid to abolish the 164 remaining grammar schools in England.

Twenty per cent of eligible parents must sign a petition before a ballot can be triggered. This could prove to be a nightmare of organisation for voluntary groups.

The ballots come in two kinds:

feeder school ballots where the electorate will extend well beyond the local education authority boundary. Eligible schools must have sent five or more pupils to the grammar school in the previous three years in order to qualify; and

area ballots where grammar schools take 25 per cent or more of secondary school pupils all parents get a vote.

In 74 grammar schools, parents will have to organise feeder school ballots. The other 90 schools would be involved in area ballots.

The Campaign for State Education has called on the Government to change the system because thousands of parents who pay council tax to maintain these schools will be unable to vote and critics say the rules are too complicated.

For example, in Barnet, north-west London, which has three grammar schools, only parents at a third of the authority's 91 primary schools are eligible to vote. Parents at another 38 feeder schools can vote, most of them outside Barnet, with 14 in the private sector.

In Ripon, North Yorkshire, parents of 11 out of 16 local infant and junior schools get a say, although eight other schools outside of the area are also eligible.

Most campaigners are expecting ballots to take place early next year with Kent, Barnet, Sutton, Trafford and Ripon already registered with the Electoral Reform Society.

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