The perils of polling

30th November 2007 at 00:00
Tony Blair learnt the dangers of giving constituents an online voice when he was Prime Minister and had to write apologising to 1.7 million people who had signed a petition on the No 10 website objecting to charging motorists.

Now David Young Community Academy in Leeds may have learnt the same lesson with an online poll that found 52 per cent thought its admissions policy was unfair and only 35 per cent were in favour.

Academy admissions are contentious at the best of times. Leeds' sole academy, which is over-subscribed, takes pupils from across ability bands. Those living less than 1km away or with older siblings at the school are preferred.

Ros McMullen, the principal, said the admissions policy was fair but unusual: "The online poll is part of our drive to explain it to people." Unfortunately, the community told the Church of England-sponsored academy exactly what it thought of the policy.

Perhaps the school had to give the community a chance to comment online. After all, it charges pupils and parents to contact it by phone with an 0845 number - although it emphasises that it does not make a profit from the line.

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