No good reason to select by aptitude;Letter

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
The useful resume of the year of action ahead (TES, May 8) does unfortunately mislead in one respect.

The School Standards and Framework Bill, unless amended in the Lords, will allow all maintained schools to select up to 10 per cent by reference to their "aptitude" in one or more subjects. This "permitted" selection will not be restricted to the up-to 450 schools funded by the specialist schools programme; indeed the provision will even include primary schools.

Of course, the Government will say that if a school wants to select, other admission authorities such as education authorities, voluntary and foundation schools will be able to object to the adjudicator.

It seems, however, the adjudicator will not be an option for parents living nearby whose children, not having the required aptitude, thereby have their chances of getting in to their nearest school reduced by 10 per cent. What will happen in subsequent years when the siblings of the 10 per cent will presumably have priority over children living nearby?

The Government has not produced one educational reason why schools should select on "aptitude". It seems provisions, introduced in an admissions circular in 1993, have been adopted without real critical analysis and cemented into primary legislation.

Selection reduces choice for most parents, only increasing choice for those with children able to pass the test. Selection increases choice for schools. Under these "permitted selection" provisions, that choice, albeit only 10 per cent, will be open to all schools.

Margaret Tulloch. Executive secretary. Campaign for State Education. 158 Durham Road. London SW20

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