No recriminations against grant-maintained sector

24th October 1997 at 01:00
I read your article about grant-maintained schools with some amazement (TES, October 10).

Hillingdon has the highest percentage of pupils in the GM secondary sector in the country (about 85 per cent) but we still maintain good relations with them. We also have 10 GM primary schools out of a total of 69, so we have plenty of experience of dealing with GM schools. All GM schools buy in some local authority services.

We work together on a range of issues affecting the quality of education in Hillingdon. For example, the Audit Commission has commented upon our arrangements for admissions as a model of good practice.

I have always taken the attitude that while I disagree with GM status, the GM schools educate the children of my electors, and therefore I will do what I can to make sure they get the best education possible.

We have a GM secondary head (representing all the secondary heads) and two GM chairs of governors (one as a secondary governor, and one representing a different organisation) on our education committee, and they play a full part. We invite the GM heads to local authority-organised events, and many of them attend. Also we have pupils from a GM secondary school doing work experience in the education department as I write.

All in all, we have a constructive relationship with our GM schools, and I see no reason for it to change.

Any GM schools in Hillingdon that decide to become community schools will find a warm welcome from the local authority. If they decide to become foundation schools, we will have to respect their wishes.

Whatever happens, there will be no recriminations and no "settling old scores" (whatever that might mean).

On the other hand we recognise, and welcome, the fact that GM heads will bring a different perspective to the local authority, and by working together, pooling our experiences, we hope to raise the achievements of all the children in Hillingdon.

Peter Ryerson

London borough of Hillingdon Civic Centre High Street Uxbridge Middlesex

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