Pupils driven away by ‘scandal of selection’

Master builder and staff member Dave Cox discusses progress with head Martyn Taylor ANL-140426-144740001
Master builder and staff member Dave Cox discusses progress with head Martyn Taylor ANL-140426-144740001
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A Donington secondary school is building an extra classroom underneath an existing one because more parents would prefer their children to travel away from their home town to be educated.

Headteacher of Thomas Cowley High School Martyn Taylor says he is delighted parents have made his school their preferred school, but hopes it is not at the expense of other schools.

Mr Taylor fears schools across the county that have been struggling have become victims of what he describes as a “scandalous school selection system”.

Although the selection process is still ongoing, one of the victims seems to be Sir John Gleed School in Spalding. According CfBT Education Trust’s Going to Secondary School guide 2014-15, the school quotes a facility for 270 admissions for Year 7. Last year, 149 parents made the school their first preference, compared with 122 this year. These parents have accepted places at the school.

Mr Taylor said the waiting list to attend Thomas Cowley contains Spalding addresses. He said: “We were all encouraged to become academies but when Spalding Grammar School takes the top 25 to 30 per cent of achievers, we are left to fight it out for the others.

“We have been fortunate to have an excellent reputation and more pupils coming here will secure our financial future for the next five years. But in an age where parents can look at the Ofsted website and base their choices on what they read they are bound to look elsewhere if there is a bad report.

“I know I am getting pupils who should be taught in Spalding because of the addresses but we, too, have our challenging students. In an ideal world schools like mine, Sir John Gleed and Kirton Middlecott could pool resources in some way. But we have to keep going and try somehow to keep our heads above water. What is happening with our schools is scandalous.”

Debbie Barnes, director of children’s services at Lincolnshire County council;, said: “Parents have a right to express a preference for any school they wish. In Lincolnshire we support a selection of different schools, including grammar schools, to suit all children and young people. Some schools will always be more popular than others.”