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Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 04:25 GMT
Anti-grammar campaigners fight on

Ripon Grammar: Education battle ground
Campaigners against grammar schools are determined to continue their fight despite losing the battle to turn historic Ripon school into a comprehensive.

Ripon is to remain a grammar after a ballot of parents on Friday rejected calls to end selective education.

Opponents of the grammar system are now planning an appeal against the decision on the future of Ripon.

They say ballot regulations were breached and that the eligibility rules unfairly favoured the pro-grammar supporters.

Out of towners

Debbie Atkins, spokesman for the Ripon Campaign for State Education, said: "We believe that our opponents played on the fear of the unknown."

She said the campaign against selection had won a majority in the North Yorkshire town itself, but that the vote had been swung by more than 700 parents from nearby prep schools who were also entitled to vote.

The anti-grammar campaigners were angry that 26% of the electorate was drawn from the parents of children at private prep schools, many of whom live outside Ripon.

They say this over-rode the interests of parents living in the town.

Campaigns continue

Elsewhere in the country, other critics of selection said the ballot result would not undermine their campaigns.

In Kent, campaigners need to gather more than 45,000 signatures to force a ballot affecting all of the county's schools.

Anti-selection campaigner Becky Matthews said: "In terms of the educational argument, I believe we have already won. If we trigger a ballot we will win it."

Petitions are also being raised in Trafford, Greater Manchester, in Birmingham and in the London boroughs of Barnet and Sutton.

In each case, campaigners have to collect the signatures of 20% of eligible parents.

But John Warren, spokesman for the Ripon Secondary Schools Partnership, which defended selection described his opponents' decision to appeal as "sour grapes.

He said: "We are absolutely delighted. It was a bigger majority than we had expected.

"Parents have voted decisively to keep the grammar school. I would hope that would be the end of the matter."
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See also:

10 Mar 00 | Education
Parents vote to keep grammar school
09 Mar 00 | Education
Grammar ballot divides parents
10 Mar 00 | Education
Anti-grammar parents threaten appeal
15 Jul 99 | Education
Grammar school ballots inquiries
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