Parents take schools battle to the polls

A GROUP of parents will stand against Labour councillors in the May local government elections in protest against the Government's decision to allow schools to select a proportion of pupils by ability.

Parents in the London borough of Wandsworth say that children there are being damaged because they may have to take as many as seven tests to secure a school place. Some children of even average ability have no chance of a place at their local school.

All 10 Wandsworth secondary schools require pupils to take either a test or to be interviewed because they operate some form of selection. Two are church schools which select by interview and three have a banding system and take 20 per cent of children from each of five ability bands. The rest use tests to select some pupils by aptitude of ability.

Legislation now before the Commons will allow such partial selection to continue. All schools will be able to select up to 10 per cent of their pupils for special aptitude, for example in music or art. Parents in areas such as Hertfordshire and the London borough of Bromley have already protested against partial selection policies, introduced by the last government, which allow schools to select up to 50 per cent of pupils. Ministers say that, under the Bill, local adjudicators on admissions will be able to stop partial selection if parents complain that it is causing chaos.

Caroline Holden, one of eight Wandsworth parents who intends to stand for election, said: "My 10-year-old son is dyslexic and will be applying to secondary school next year. I have to decide whether to enter him for these tests knowing that his confidence and morale will plummet."

Mrs Holden can see one of the borough's most popular schools, Graveney, from her house but fears that her son will have no chance of getting in. Half of the pupils are selected by ability and this year the remaining places were taken up by children who already have siblings at the school.

Mark Barnard's daughter, Rebecca, 11, lives about 200 yards from the school, but did not pass the test. "We are pretty annoyed. We moved here from Lambeth because of the education." Now Rebecca, who took tests for five different schools, will have to take two buses to reach Chestnut Grove school.

Sarah Forester, whose son, Jim, passed the test for Graveney this year, says the admissions process was so traumatic that she wants to protect other children from the experience. "It is really abusive of children. I took a conscious decision not to put him in for too many tests. He did three and passed them all but some children do six tests and still have no school place at the end of it. You are not guaranteed a place in any school.

"Jim is a changed child since he passed the test. He has been so unhappy. He showed no interest in his friends or out-of-school activities. He was very easily upset."

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, says comments in December by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, in the Commons that "part of our admissions policy will remove partial selection where it exists" contradict the Bill.

"The Government has done a massive U-turn on this. The situation in Wandsworth is a disgrace."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine