Passport to disappointment

16th April 2004 at 01:00
The surprising thing about Conservative shadow ministers is that they think vouchers or passports can increase parental choice. What happens when the parent finds the school where they present the passport is full and not able to admit their child?

Education authorities do not allocate children to schools and any parent can choose any school provided it not over-subscribed. Surplus places actually increase parental choice. Schools admit on a locally- agreed criteria such as nearness, siblings or a local primary feeder school.

Parents can now express six preferences for a school.

Most parents prefer their children to go to a good school near where they live. Vouchers do not increase choice nor does having different types of schools. As it is there are already church schools, specialist schools, single-sex schools, community schools. In a rural area there is often only one school accessible to most parents.

Making admissions fair is a difficult task and simplistic policies like passports are not only unhelpful but guaranteed to introduce more injustice to the present system.

Graham Lane Local Government Association Education leader Smith Square London SW1

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