Our comprehensives are as desirable as the grammars
FOLLOWING the report about 11+ results letters we would like to contest the claim in your editorial that the city's comprehensive secondary schools are "deemed so much less desirable" than its grammar schools.
From the many parents we talk to on a regular basis, it's not accurate to suggest our comprehensive schools are not as desirable. Indeed, last year's applications show that 2,571 children applied to a comprehensive school for their first choice (including faith schools), compared with 626 children who applied to a grammar school as their first choice.
We have a fantastic range of secondary education in Plymouth, including "outstanding" comprehensive schools as rated by Ofsted. Our reputation is such that children and parents from the surrounding areas in Devon and Cornwall apply to attend our Plymouth comprehensive schools.
We would like to clarify that the change to the 11+ system was a result of a national decision and the council worked with the relevant schools locally in January and February this year to implement the policy changes.
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As a council we fed into the relevant consultation in the proper way, outlining our concerns and voicing our opposition to the change. The policy was changed nationally and the Council was given the statutory responsibility for ensuring it was implemented by schools locally.
To see that the admissions process is fair to all children and parents, the council must ensure that school place offer letters are issued on the same day to ensure no particular group has an advantage over any other. This will take place on March 1 2013.
We sincerely hope that as many children and parents as possible receive their first choice of secondary school.
Chair of the Plymouth Learning Trust and Head teacher of Plymstock School
Director for People, Plymouth City Council
Editor's note: For clarity, the relevant section of the The Herald's comment column published on October 10 read:
"The scramble to win places at the grammars once again underlines the advantages parents believe are available to those lucky few who win a place through the 11+ lottery.
What none of us should forget is the majority of young people who attend the many other great schools in this city.
While it is important the selection process is refined to avoid a repeat of this year's situation, the more important question must surely be why we are prepared to accept a system where many of our children are educated at schools which are deemed to be so much less desirable than others."