Schools ordered to cut total of pupils selected by ability

MORE SCHOOLS were ordered yesterday to cut the number of pupils they select by ability.

Decisions announced by the new Office of the Schools Adjudicator mean that schools in Northamptonshire and the London borough of Barnet will have to change their admissions criteria. The office dismissed objections to part- selection in a third school.

But the decisions taken suggest that new rules introduced by the Government will curtail the amount of partial selection. Earlier this week parent groups throughout the country began campaigns to end selection in grammar schools that select all their pupils.

Last month, three schools in the south London borough of Wandsworth, which is Tory-controlled, were told to cut by almost half the number of pupils they select by ability. Plans to introduce part- selection in two schools in Croydon were also rejected.

Under the Conservatives, some schools were encouraged to select up to 50 per cent of their intake. But legislation introduced by this Government allows parents and local education authorities to complain about schools that select some but not all of their pupils.

The Schools Adjudicator must take into account whether admission arrangements deny places to pupils living near by and harm other schools by creaming off brighter children.

Yesterday the adjudicator upheld objections from parents and the local education authority about Mill Hill County High School in Barnet. The school currently selects 45 per cent of its pupils, some on ability and some on aptitude in music, dance and technology. It was told it can select just 10 per cent on aptitude, bringing it into line with other specialist schools that are allowed to select one in 10 pupils on aptitude. The adjudicator said pupils were having to travel unreasonable distances to other schools.

In Northamptonshire, part-selection at Sir Christopher Hatton School in Wellingborough will be cut from 15 to 10 per cent. However, Erith school in Bexley will be allowed to continue to select 60 pupils a year.

Sir Peter Newsam, the Chief Adjudicator, said the decisions showed the wide variety of local circumstances that had to be taken into account.