Grammarsleft out of fast-track expansion

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
Grammar schools will be excluded from government plans to make it easier for popular secondaries to expand.

Ministers will not allow a new "fast-track" expansion procedure to be used to promote academic selection - even if there is a strong demand for extra places, a government consultation paper reveals.

Plans to make it easier for popular and successful schools to expand feature in the Government's five-year strategy.

Draft regulations published by the Department for Education and Skills this month suggested reducing the period schools are required to consult on expansion plans from six weeks to four.

There is no definition of a successful school but exam results, value-added performances and the demand for places should all be taken into account, they said.

The Government has faced criticism from its own backbenchers over grammar schools after figures showed the number of their pupils has increased by more than a third in the past decade. Since 1999 pupil numbers have increased by 9,873 to 150,750, the equivalent of 11 extra schools.

Brian Wills-Pope, chair of the National Grammar Schools Association, said:

"The evidence has shown that grammar schools are popular with parents and it is disappointing that the Government has not recognised that.

"Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, is disenfranchising lots of Labour voters who cannot afford to send their children toprivate schools."

He said the association would make representation on the issue but expected to be "banging our head against a brick wall".

Grammars, along with other schools, will still be able to submit plans for expansion to local school organisation committees under existing procedures.

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