BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 10 March, 2000, 18:21 GMT
Parents vote to keep grammar school
The 11-plus exam will continue to decide admissions
The 11-plus exam will continue to decide admissions
Ripon Grammar School in North Yorkshire is to remain a grammar school, as anti-selection campaigners lose a ballot of parents.

The first ballot on the future of a grammar school has been won by parents wanting to maintain selection - by 1,493 votes to 747 on a 74.8% turnout.

The result - with 67% of parents backing selection - means that the 450-year-old school will continue to select its 750 pupils by the 11-plus exam.
Who voted in the grammar school ballot?
Parents of 'feeder' primary schools

Feeder school defined as schools which send five or more pupils to grammar school

Feeder schools must have sent pupils within previous two years

67% of parents voted to keep selection

26% of voters have children at private schools
The result will give encouragement to the 163 other remaining grammar schools in England, with further ballots possible in Trafford, Kent, Birmingham and the London boroughs of Barnet and Sutton.

But there could be an appeal over the Ripon result from anti-grammar campaigners who say that the ballot regulations were breached and that the eligibility rules unfairly favoured the pro-grammar supporters.

Almost 3,000 parents were eligible to vote on whether or not the school should become a non-selective comprehensive - with the electorate drawn from parents with children in local primary schools.

But the anti-grammar campaigners have been angered that 26% of the electorate was drawn from the parents of children at private prep-schools, many of whom live outside Ripon.
Simon Grenfell
Simon Grenfell says that the school's successful formula does not need changing
The inclusion of this large number of private school parents from outside Ripon, they argue, has over-ridden the interests of parents living in the town.

They have also complained about the distribution of a promotional video by the pro-grammar campaign, which they say did not fairly represent the arguments for and against selection.

Labelled as failures

"It is clear that the regulations make it difficult for parents to get the information they need to reach an informed decision.

"I hope the lessons learnt from this ballot will encourage the government to look again at the whole issue," said Margaret Tulloch, spokesperson for the Campaign for State Education.

But the spokesman for the pro-selection campaigners, John Warren, said that he was delighted by a bigger than expected majority. He described the result as "decisive" and dismissed complaints as "sour grapes", warning that the town would not welcome an appeal.

Parent and chairman of governors, Simon Grenfell, also welcomed the success of the pro-grammar lobby, having argued "If it isn't broke, then don't fix it."

Vote of confidence

He has said that Ripon Grammar School allows academically-minded pupils perform well at the school in an environment they might not find elsewhere.

Head teacher Alan Jones welcomed the result as a vote of confidence in the school.

"We did not seek this ballot and I was saddened when others chose to do so in the knowledge that the process, by common consent, was flawed."

But now that a result had been reached, "it is important that we now get on with the job," said Mr Jones.

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, says that the "government respects the decision of parents to retain the current admission arrangements. At all stages of the debate, the decision has been a matter for the parents and they had the chance to express their views".

The Conservative education spokesperson, John Bercow, said: "I am delighted by this news. Parental choice has been retained. But there has been needless disruption."

BBC Education Correspondent Mike Baker
"The recriminations over the ballot will go on for some time."
The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"Part of the city's tradition"
Ripon Grammar head Alan Jones
"Where there are good schools, let them get on with the job."
See also:

09 Mar 00 | Education
10 Mar 00 | Education
28 Jan 00 | Education
15 Jul 99 | Education
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |