Opt-outs seek to select 40 per cent

31st March 1995 at 01:00
Anger is mounting over plans by two Surrey grant-maintained comprehensives to bring back 11-plus- style selection.

Governors at Rosebery School, an all-girls, 11-18 comprehensive in Epsom, and all-boys Glyn ADT Technology School, Ewell, have started proceedings to select 40 per cent of pupils on academic ability.

Steve Clarke, head of policy and planning at Surrey, said the council was deeply opposed to selection and planned to write to every parent in the area stating its views.

"We've already met local primary headteachers, many of whom entirely agree with us. We think the 11-plus is discredited. It was abolished in Surrey by parental demand and there is no parental demand to bring it back. It's bad for education because it will create hundreds of children who are labelled as failures when the county should be helping all children to succeed," he said.

Mr Clarke said the council was especially concerned about Rosebery's plans to take pupils from a 3.5 mile radius while Glyn will select from an even wider area, given that there was already a shortage of places for local children.

"Less able pupils who don't get selected will have far fewer places available to them as children will come in from outside," he claimed.

He said the council had succeeded in fending off Glyn School's selection plans last February, but the governors were now trying again.

"They tried to rush the whole thing through without proper consultation. We went to the High Court and secured leave for a judicial review against the school on February 24 because they hadn't consulted properly and, fearing they might lose, they backed down. But they're coming back to it, hoping to wear people out," he added.

John Merrigan, head of Epsom and Ewell High School, which is also grant-maintained but has no plans to bring back the 11-plus, said he was furious about the schools' plans. "The governors are simply trying to maintain a high standard of achievement by the short cut of selecting pupils of academically high ability in the first place," he claimed.

Stuart Turner, head of Glyn ADT Technology School, said they had sent out a new consultative document to parents on Tuesday and was hoping this time to be successful. "We feel it's difficult to be a specialist school if you select children on a random basis," he said.

The council had a dogmatic view that failed to take into account local circumstances whereby comprehensives lost many bright pupils to Sutton and Kingston grammar schools, he said.

"What we're attempting to do is give the pupils who would normally leave this area the chance to come to a selective school nearer their home. Parents in this area want selective schools," Mr Turner added.

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