Schools hit back at Balls

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SI­MON ROCKER ANDLEONSYMONS

ED BALLS, Sec­re­tary of State for Chil­dren, Schools and Fam­i­lies, has de­fended the ex­po­sure of schools in breach of the gov­ern­ment’s ad­mis­sions code de­spite anger among Jewish schools at his de­ci­sion to name them.

Writ­ing in to­day’s JC, Mr Balls says: “I do not think that keep­ing all this in­for­ma­tion a se­cret would have been pos­si­ble or the right thing to do in the pub­lic in­ter­est.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Jewish schools were ex­pected to air their griev­ances at his ac­tions at a spe­cial meet­ing with Schools Min­is­ter Jim Knight due to have taken place at the Board of Deputies last night.

They were par­tic­u­larly in­censed at “cash-for-places” head­lines in the na­tional me­dia fol­low­ing Mr Balls’s an­nounce­ment last week that sev­eral Jewish schools had sought do­na­tions from par­ents on their chil­dren’s ap­pli­ca­tion form.

Other schools had fallen foul of the gov­ern­ment’s guide­lines by ask­ing par­ents about their mar­i­tal sta­tus or oc­cu­pa­tion on en­try forms.

But in a let­ter to Mr Balls at the end of last week, Henry Grun­wald, QC, pr e s i dent of the Board of Deputies, wrote: “I want you to know that I am not aware of any J e wish s c hool that re­fuses ad­mis­sion to a pupil be­cause of an in­abil­ity to make such a con­tri­bu­tion.”

The gov­ern­ment car­ried out checks on 570 schools in three bor­oughs to test com­pli­ance with its new ad­mis­sions code, which came into ef­fect in Fe­bru­ary last year. One in six schools were found to have bro­ken the code in some way, in­clud­ing all 13 state-aided Jewish schools in Barnet and Manch­ester.

Five of the six schools iden­ti­fied by Mr Balls as hav­ing asked par­ents on ap­pli­ca­tion forms to con­firm their will­ing­ness to pay con­tri­bu­tions were Jewish.

In his ar­ti­cle in the JC to­day, Mr Balls makes clear that state-aided schools are en­ti­tled to seek do­na­tions for re-

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Ed Balls, namer and shamer

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