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Mike Baker reports for BBC News
"The Ripon vote will be closely watched"
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Friday, 28 January, 2000, 08:59 GMT
Ripon grammar goes to ballot

ripon grammar Ripon Grammar: Future uncertain

Anti-selection campaigners have now got the formal go-ahead for the first parental ballot on whether one of England's remaining grammar schools should be retained.

Electoral Reform Ballot Services, which is overseeing the process, has confirmed that in Ripon, North Yorkshire, they have reached the necessary threshold on their petition calling for a ballot - 20% of the parents eligible to vote.

A total of 587 signatures have been verified against the electoral roll.

Now, about 3,000 parents whose children attend Ripon Grammar School's 15 feeder preparatory and primary schools will be balloted.

The result - due in 10 weeks - will be decided by a simple majority.

A member of Ripon Campaign for State Education, Debbie Atkins, said: "It has become clear that a significant number of Ripon parents are opposed to the selective system.

"The government have given parents the right to decide and I would urge parents to use their vote to end this unfair and divisive system."


Opposite Ripon Grammar is the town's other secondary school, Ripon College - which has just been awarded technology college status and the extra funding that goes with it.

Both schools want to see the present arrangements continue.

paul lowery Paul Lowery: Regrets
The college's principal, Paul Lowery, regrets the uncertainty that the ballot will cause.

"We believe and certainly my governors believe in the pricniple of diversity," he said.

"We believe that parents should have the choice of different types of school. And the argument about possibly creating one large comprehensive would not be a vision that we would particularly subscribe to."

Fighting back

The Conservatives have recently begun a campaign to save the remaining grammar schools and politicians will be visiting Ripon during the ballot there.

"The Conservative Party will join parents, pupils and teachers in the fight to save Ripon Grammar school," a spokesman said.

Ripon is the only one of the 164 remaining grammar schools in England where a ballot is taking place.

Campaigners in other areas are thought to be far from reaching the necessary 20% support needed to trigger a vote.

There are no grammar schools in Scotland or in Wales. Northern Ireland on the other hand has an entirely selective secondary system - currently under review.

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See also:
21 Jan 00 |  Education
Grammar school faces ballot on future
05 Jan 00 |  Education
What future for grammar schools?
10 Jan 00 |  Education
Tories campaign to save grammars

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