Polling day nightmare looms;Election;Local

30th April 1999 at 01:00
Secondary heads step up call for Sunday elections as schools face a double dose of ballot box duty, reports Clare Dean

NEXT week's local elections coincide with the national maths tests for 14-year-olds prompting serious concerns in schools used as polling stations.

The European elections on June 10 fall in the busiest week of GCSE and A-level exams. Schools have historically been used as polling stations and returning officers have the right to use them free of charge for elections.

But the Secondary Heads Association has attacked the practice as unreasonable. John Dunford, SHA general secretary, told The TES that other buildings should be used instead.

Margaret Lenton, head of Slough grammar, said: "Every secondary school that is used as a polling station must be dreading, like I do, these two dates."

On Thursday more than 150 pupils at her grant-maintained school will be doing the maths tests. There will also be language aurals and an art exam practical.

On June 10, 900 pupils will sit either GCSE, A-level or a school exam. "It's a nightmare," said Mrs Lenton. "Members of the public wander into the school, you have to throw them out of exam rooms. People just aren't respectful. Last year a car pulled up at the main entrance. A passenger said: 'We've got someone in a wheelchair. Get some of your children to take them in.' I just said no!

"There is a strong case for having elections on a Sunday so that this kind of disruption would not occur."

John Dunford added: "If you don't use the exam hall as a polling station there are problems with security with members of the public coming in and wandering around the school. You can't have pupils escorting every voter to the polling booth."

Slough council is talking to the school and hopes to reach agreement on using rooms that are not part of the main buildings to help keep electors away from examination areas.

A spokeswoman added: "We are seeking a permanent solution and are looking for suitable alternative accommodation which meets statutory requirements."

Test countdown

Key stage 1

English test can be taken any time

between May 12 and June 4.

Maths any time between May 10

and June 4

Key stage 2:

Monday May 10: am maths a;

pm mental arithmetic.

Tuesday May 11: am maths b;

pm science a.

Wednesday May 12: am writing;

handwriting amp; spelling.

Wednesday May 12: pm maths extension paper.

Thursday May 13: am writing amp; English extension paper.

Friday May 14: am science b;

pm science extension paper.

Key stage 3:

Tuesday May 4: am English 1;

pm English 2.

Wednesday May 5: am mental

arithmetic aamp;c;

pm English extension test

Thursday May 6: maths 1, mental

arithmetic b; pm maths 2

Friday May 7: am science 1; pm science 2

Monday May 10: am maths extension paper;

pm science extension paper.

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