'Random selection' by schools is fair

THE selection policies of two heavily over-subscribed Lancashire schools, Habergham High School, Burnley, and Ormskirk Grammar School, have been ruled lawful and fair by a High Court judge.

Mr Justice MacPherson rejected a challenge by the parents of five children from Burnley and Ormskirk who were denied admission to their chosen schools. They claimed that the selection policies were entirely random, not unlike a penalty shoot-out in a football match, their counsel, James Goudie QC, told the hearing.

Yesterday's ruling opens the way for Lancashire County Council to enshrine the 'random selection' system in its admissions policy, which is under review.

Places at both schools, which are near the top of the academic 'league table', have been allotted by the same process for more than a decade. Preference is given to children with an older sibling at the schools and those with a specific medical reason for attending a particular school.

The third criterion is home 'proximity' to the schools - the so-called geographic test - the cause of the parental objection.

The judge refused leave to appeal against his decision.

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