Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Hague backs selection for schools
William Hague wants parents to decide over selection
Schools which select pupils on ability should be available throughout the country - if parents want them, says Conservative party leader, William Hague.
"We are in favour of local decision-making ... We have got to encourage different kinds of schools. We have got to encourage diversity," said Mr Hague.
Visiting a partially-selective school in south London, Mr Hague said that where parents and the local community were in favour, selective schools should be available.
In such schools, a proportion of the pupils are given places after a selection process, with the remainder given places through non-selective factors, such as living near to the school.
Selection reduced by ruling
Mr Hague's defence of selection follows decisions last month by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which rules on school admissions, to limit levels of selection.
The rulings reduced the levels of selection allowed for schools in the London Borough of Wandsworth from 50% to 25% of pupils - and two secondary schools in the London Borough of Croydon were stopped from selecting 15% of their intake.
If parents or a local authority are unhappy with selection procedures they can apply to the schools adjudicator for a review.
Mr Hague also attacked moves to remove the remaining grammar schools in England. "You don't raise the average in education by destroying the best, which is what the government is now embarking on," he said.
Campaigners against grammar schools have begun a process of gathering parents' names for petitions which could lead to ballots on whether grammar schools are maintained, under regulations established by the government for local decisions on the grammar school system.