Council promotes private schools

A LOCAL authority is sending parents of all 11-year-olds a brochure for nearby fee-paying schools that are in direct competition with its state schools.

Tory-controlled Wandsworth in south London, which is also sending out a guide to state schools in the borough, says it was forced to produce the independent schools' booklet because the Government has abolished the assisted places scheme. The guides are designed for pupils transferring to secondary school next autumn.

Last year, the council included the borough's two independent schools in its guide with details of the scheme, which subsidised places for bright pupils in private schools. This year, it lists 10 private schools within striking distance of Wandsworth children in a brochure paid for by the schools.

Malcolm Grimston, chair of the education committee, said: "It is the council's job to give parents the widest possible information on which to base this vitally important decision."

A National Union of Teachers spokesman said it was disappointing to find "an education authority which doesn't have sufficient confidence in its own schools to promote them solely".