Grammar school expansion worries

A ‘CLOSE eye’ will be kept on the impact on Daventry’s schools of extra grammar school places being created in Rugby.

All three selective schools in Rugby are planning on increasing their September 2013 intake and in total there will be an extra 112 places for pupils passing the 11-plus.

The concern is the extra places could lead to more able and more affluent students being skimmed off the town’s comprehensives.

Cllr Chris Long represents half of Daventry on Northamptonshire County Council – the local education authority. He said: “I welcome choice for parents, but we don’t want to see a ‘brain drain’ out of the district.

“In the past we have seen numbers of pupils travelling from Daventry to schools in Rugby and other towns for their education and in the past this increase in places would be a cause for concern.

“But Daventry’s offering has improved in recent years and is still improving. That gives parents and students more options in terms of whether they should stay in Daventry or travel out of the county for their education.

“Another issue that is becoming more important is the cost of that travel in terms of fuel which seems to be going up every week.”

Worries over the impact of the selective schools in Warwickshire on education in Daventry has been an issue for several years.

In 2009 Northamptonshire County Council tried to get Warwickshire’s admissions policy changed to limit the number of pupils from the Daventry area going across the county boundary, claiming the grammar schools were ‘undermining’ Northamptonshire’s comprehensive system by creaming off the more academically able students.

In September this year both William Parker and Danetre look likely to be under-subscribed.

Most recently Daventry District Council’s scrutiny and improvement group voiced its worries.

A report to councillors described the standard of Daventry’s post-16 education as being at “the lower end of the spectrum”, and that poor access to A-levels was forcing children to Rugby, Leamington, Towcester and Bugbrooke.

A spokesman for NCC said: “We’re aware of the approaching changes to Warwickshire schools admission numbers.

“We’re looking at these in the context of a period of significant change for education, both nationally and locally.

“In Daventry that includes a new university technical college for the town, the recent changes in Daventry schools to accommodate post-16 learners and the potential of both secondary schools being academies.

“At this stage we don’t have any plans to formally respond to the changes in Warwickshire but we’ll be keeping a very close eye on the situation.” n What do you think? Email your views to editorial@daventry