The GM option;Letter

10th April 1998 at 01:00
In the report "GM option remains open"(TES, March 27) you did not mention the parent groups which have set up a school and then applied under the 1993 legislation for grant-maintained status.

A case in point is Oak Hill school, which was the first parent-founded school to apply for GM status. Its ethos was Christian and its objectives were to expand and develop the school to serve the north of Bristol. Its application was rejected by the then education secretary, Gillian Shephard, in 1995, on the basis that "there was insufficient evidence of demand". This rejection caused the closure of the school.

Three years later it appears that there is a demonstrable demand. Your own report indicated that parents in north Bristol cannot find suitable education for their children.

To prevent this type of misjudgment from happening in the future, it is imperative that the Government starts genuinely to listen to and involve parents. Additionally, the planning of school provision must move on from simple notions of demand in terms of surplus places.

It should be interpreted strategically in terms of the mix and variety of schools needed to meet the requirements of families and communities, and the satisfying of demand should involve all education providers in both state schools and parent-founded schools.

Ruth Chenoweth Co-ordinator Third Sector Schools Alliance Dedworth Road, Windsor

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