Let’s suppose RBWM goes ahead with a new grammar school and our worst fears are proven true; our good comprehensives become poor performing secondary moderns and the attainment gap widens. Well so what? Setting aside (for a moment) the thousands of children whose education will have been ruined, surely we can correct the mistake and convert the new grammar school into a comprehensive?
Well no, actually the people of Maidenhead will pretty much powerless to recover the situation.
One of the side effects of using a loophole in the legislation meant to prevent the creation of new selective schools is that the only way that RBWM can achieve their aim is by asking a school in another Local Authority to build an annexe of its existing school. The effect of this is that the new school is merely a new building belonging to the parent school and its Local Authority. All of the school’s results and all decisions about its future lie with the parent school and its Local Authority.
In the case of RBWM, they have turned to Sir William Borlase Grammar School in Marlow, Buckinghamshire to help them with their plan. The “new school” that will be created should RBWM succeed will need to be an extension of Sir William Borlase Grammar School and should the people of Maidenhead wish to regain control of their education system and remove selection they will have to use the rules in force that control how existing selective schools can be converted to non-selective schools.
These rules are defined by The Education (Grammar School Ballots) Regulations 1998 and set out in Annex E of the Funding Agreement document for Sir William Borlase Grammar School. Under these rules, Buckinghamshire schools can only remove selection if the whole “Area” votes in ballot to remove it.
Only “eligible parents” can vote in a ballot to remove selection. “Eligible parents” must fall into one of the following categories…
- Have a child in a Buckinghamshire school
- Resident in Buckinghamshire and have a child at an independent school in the county
- Resident Buckinghamshire with a child schooled out of county
- Resident in Buckinghamshire with a child not of school age
This means that only those parents resident in RBWM that have children in a Buckinghamshire school would be eligible to vote.
The parents whose children are being failed by the selective system get no say whatsoever and for Maidenhead that means that once this school is built, this is essentially a one way street with no possibility of a u-turn.