Locals bussed out by ballot

6th August 2004 at 01:00
Philip Collins of the Social Market Foundation suggests (TES, July 30) that places at popular schools should be allocated by ballot rather than propinquity.

Whatever the merits of this in London, the expense and unhappiness caused in rural areas would be enormous.

Most Oxfordshire towns have exactly one comprehensive school serving the town and neighbouring villages. Places are now allocated by distance and if the school is oversubscribed, children from more distant villages will be bussed to the next town. If places were allocated by ballot, many children living in the town would be bussed away from their primary school friends.

These buses would have to visit and pick up small numbers of pupils in every part of the school's present catchment area.

For example, Lord Williams' school in Thame - which is on the edge of Oxfordshire - is popular with parents in Buckinghamshire who do not like Bucks' selective system.

If they thought that a ballot might get them places in a comprehensive, the number of applicants could greatly increase to, say, 50 per cent above the school's capacity. In that case, several hundred Oxfordshire children would have to be bussed to schools several miles away.

The popularity of Didcot girls' school (close to the railway line to Reading) would cause similar unhappiness and expense.

Oxfordshire County Council is encouraging every secondary school to co-operate with its feeder primary schools and to be a resource for its local community. This effort will be in vain if large numbers of its community are denied places.

Dermot Roaf

Leader, Liberal Democrats

Oxfordshire county council

County Hall

New Road


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today