Manipulation by academy

24th February 2006 at 00:00
In "Academy power to run free" (TES, February 10), you report that Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham college, Lewisham, uses a lottery to award half its places, and say this is part of efforts to thwart wealthy families buying properties in the catchment areas of successful schools.

Aske's was well-known locally for its manipulation of admissions procedures in its previous incarnation as a city technology college and things have not changed much since it became an academy.

If you know the the area, you will know that the school has two sites.

Choosing the Pepys Road site as the point from which distance is measured and only offering 50 per cent (after music specialist places, looked after children and siblings) of places on distance keeps the catchment area tightly drawn in Telegraph Hill, a middle-class enclave.

If the school measured distances from its Jerningham Road site andor offered all places on distance, it would take many more children from poorer areas of New Cross - something it has shown no intention of doing.

Another way of legitimately selecting middle-class high achievers is to become a music specialist school; the music specialist Aske's doesn't miss a trick - it was a technology specialist until last year.

Dr Tim Ewers,

79 Erlanger Road

New Cross Gate, London

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