Grammars report will stay secret
THE Government is refusing to release a report which could affect the future of grammar schools.
The independent report examines if rules should be changed to make it easier for parents to vote on whether to abolish grammar schools in Kent.
It was commissioned and completed more than a year ago.
But the Kentish Express can reveal its findings have yet to be shared with either Ministers or with the MPs who asked for it.
Now the Department for Education and Skills has rejected a request made by the Kentish Express under the Freedom of Information Act to publish the full report, saying that to do so would not be in the public interest.
The report was commissioned in 2005 by the former Education Secretary Charles Clarke, after MPs on the cross-party education select committee said the regulations on ballots should be scrapped.
To date, £1.7million of public money has been wasted preparing for votes that have never happened because a loophole, exploited by the Kent anti-selection campaign group STEP (Stop The Eleven Plus), allows the ballot process for all the country’s 164 remaining grammars to be triggered by just 10 people.
The money has been spent on grants to schools who are paid for compiling lists of parents who would, in theory, be eligible to vote if a ballot was ever held. Other costs have gone on administration and payments to the Electoral Reform Ballot Society.
The Government’s investigation was supposed to consider if there were any alternatives to parental ballots.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) confirmed the report had examined whether the ballot regulations were working as intended. It also disclosed the report had concluded “it would be difficult to find an alternative” to the existing arrangements.
More controversially, it apparently rejected complaints from anti-selection campaigners that the rules, requiring 20 per cent of eligible voters to sign a petition demanding a ballot, made it virtually impossible for them to successfully stage a vote.
In a statement, the DfES said the report had concluded that it was “not clear...an alternative fair system of deciding eligibility to vote could be devised.”
It rejected our request for a copy of the full report, arguing that it was part of “an ongoing process of policy discussion” despite the fact Ministers have yet to be presented with its conclusions.
Martin Frey of STEP