Selection is the real admissions problem

8th July 2005 at 01:00
Sir Peter Lamp...is probably in a good position to protest to ministers about the effect of the new admissions system on grammar schools. ("Big dip in grammar school applications", TES, June 24) I hope ministers realise that it is the way that selection interacts with the admissions process that causes this situation.

Selection and its divisive and damaging effects on children are what ministers should be getting rid of. Sir Peter's own Sutton Trust funded the recent London School of Economics research which showed that the most socially mobile countries have comprehensive education.

In selective areas some schools that take children of all abilities, give priority to children of parents who put them first - many of these may prefer to send their children to comprehensive schools.

The alternative treats all preferences as equal. Where there is no selection this probably results in most parents getting a school they are happy with. However, in selective areas such a system may give parents who want grammars an unfair advantage, as they are treated as if they equally prefer any comprehensive they also put down. If their children fail the 11-plus these parents can then take a place from parents who really did want an all-ability school and so hadn't put their child through the 11-plus but live further away.

Parents who want comprehensive schooling deserve to be treated as fairly as the ones who support selection.

As the Commons education select committee has twice said we need another look at admissions.

The Government should do just that. It should end selection, take a very close look at all admissions procedures and fulfil its manifesto promise of "fair admissions".

Margaret Tulloch

Secretary

Comprehensive Future

PO Box 44327

London SW2

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