Hidden selection in 'comprehensive'

1st December 2000 at 00:00
NO one wants to belittle the achievements of schools which have worked hard to improve the achievement of their pupils.

This year's GCSE pupils in Wandsworth were the first "selected" cohorts from the three partially-selective schools.

One of these, Graveney school, has been ranked 65th in the top 100 improving schools. Half of these doubtless hard-working children were the first to be selected on ability. The results, therefore, could be expected to improve - yet the admissions policy is still listed in the tables as comprehensive.

The other selective Wandsworth schools have been selecting 30 per cent of their children over the same period and their results, though improved, are less dramatic.

As a parent-governor representative on Wandsworth council's education committe I am as keen as any to see the quality of the education improve.

It is a fact that no one - including Wandsworth education authority and the Department for Education and Employment - appears to have any data relating to the educational experience of Wandsworth children (Where, for example, do the borough's children actually go to school? Have the GCSE results of Wandsworth children improved?) It seems that the complexity of the borough's admissions system means that the data is now too hard to gather.

In the mean time, if these tables cannot measure the things that parents want to know, they ought at least to state correctly what they are measuring (output) and relate this clearly to admissions policy.

Peter Winbourne

19 Pendle Road

Streatham, London SW16

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