Watchdog halts selection

21st September 2001 at 01:00
A school has become the first to be ordered by the admissions watchdog to stop selecting pupils after neighbouring secondaries said it was taking the lion's share of the most able children.

Previously the Office of the Schools Adjudicator has only reduced the amount of partial selection.

Weavers school and Wrenn school, Wellingborough, lodged a joint appeal with Northamptonshire County Council against Sir Christopher Hatton school selecting 10 per cent of pupils on ability.

Two years earlier the two schools appealed and got the rate of selection reduced from 15 to 10 per cent.

Now, after the further appeal, the independent adjudicator has ruled that selection has had a negative impact on achievement in Wellingborough. This summer 20 pupils were left without school places because three foundation schools said they were full.

Kenneth Perris, head of Weavers school, said: "I am really pleased. It means that we all start from a level playing field. Our intake has been skewed below the norm and we have an increase of pupils with special needs which is disproportionate. We look forward to the change in September 2002."

Harry Darby, headteacher of Wrenn school, said: "We do not want to have a sink school developing in the town. This change will mean a fairer process."

But David Dobson, headteacher of Sir Christopher Hatton school, said: "It is an easy option to blame our school for problems elsewhere. Our staff are being penalised for their success in improving declining results in the town."

One of the proposed admission procedures for the three schools for next year is "banding" which means each school will take an equal share of children of all abilities.

The independent schools adjudicator has reduced partial selection in 20 schools since April 1999. Eleven appeals have not been upheld.

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