Schools warned over taking too many pupils

PUPILS from the Daventry district wanting to go to grammar schools in Rugby could find it harder to get a place in future.

Both Lawrence Sheriff and Rugby High School along with the part-selective Ashlawn School have been told to stop taking large numbers of their pupils from outside Warwickshire after complaints from Daventry schools that the best pupils were being creamed off by Rugby.

The complaint was upheld by the Office of the School’s Adjudicator which judged Warwickshire had misinterpreted a ruling from the 1980s and the three schools’ admissions policies were undermining Daventry schools’ efforts to provide a genuinely comprehensive education.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Concerns were raised at the county’s admissions forum about the admissions policies of the grammar schools in Rugby and the effect on schools in Daventry.

“When local negotiations failed, these concerns were forwarded to the Government’s Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which has upheld the objection.

“We await to see how the Rugby schools will amend their admission policies. We do not expect the amendment to mean that no pupils from Daventry can ever attend a grammar school, but that the county boundary will be given much greater prominence.”

In 2007, 64 of the 208 pupils admitted to Lawrence Sheriff and Rugby High School were from outside Rugby Borough, the majority coming from Daventry which has an entirely comprehensive school system.

The adjudicator’s decision comes less than a month after the Daventry Learning Partnership (DLP), formed of the town’s two secondary schools along with Moulton College and Northampton College, unveiled plans for a 30 million post-16 education academy in the town.

Jason Brook, headteacher at William Parker, said: “I believe that this ruling is excellent news for the secondary schools in the Daventry area and for the DLP.

“It will help to ensure that our intake of pupils is truly comprehensive and will enable us to build on the considerable successes we have achieved.”

But although Daventry schools may be happy about the news, there will be parents and pupils in the district upset that their freedom to select what school they want to go to is being limited in this way.

A Warwickshire County Council spokesman said the decision would not affect 2009 admissions but the council and Rugby schools would consider the verdict before determining 2010’s admission policy.