UKIP Councillors launch petition
A campaign has been launched for a grammar school to be opened in Merton.
The borough's three UKIP Councillors have set up an online petition and submitted a motion on the proposal that will be discussed and voted upon at the next full council meeting on November 20.
"It's not fair that bright students whose parents can't afford to send them to fee-paying schools or buy houses close to good schools should be held back," said UKIP Group Leader Councillor Suzanne Evans. "It's time to end 'selection by house price' and support selection by ability, so pupils from all walks of life have more opportunities to access high standards of education and increase their potential for success."
She added: "We know we’re going to have to build a new secondary school in the borough sooner rather than later. We also know from the numbers of Merton primary school pupils taking entrance exams in Kingston and Sutton that there is a demand for grammars. It should be a no-brainer for Councillors to do all they can to get a grammar school established in Merton and vote with us on this."
As the Government forbids the opening of any new grammar school in areas which do not already have them, UKIP's Motion proposes exploring the options for neighbouring Grammar Academies in Kingston and Sutton to open a satellite school in Merton, which is permissible under the rules.
Councillor James Holmes, the Conservatives’ Education spokesman, said: "I am pleased that other political groups are now supporting a Conservative proposal that we have been working on for several months and which we raised at Full Council back in the summer.
"However, it is going to take more than a quick petition and a motion to Council to deliver the increased educational opportunities that we want to see for Merton's young people. That's why Conservative councillors have been liaising with council officers, the Government and neighbouring boroughs to explore how other providers of education, including a satellite grammar school if that is possible, might actually be set up in Merton."
UKIP are also asking for a public consultation on whether Merton should have grammar schools for girls and boys and for Council to formally ask the Secretary of State for Education to reconsider his opposition to new grammar schools.
"The Government is pioneering free schools as part of what is says is a commitment to increasing diversity and choice, but is ignoring what parents really want – the ability to send their child to a grammar school," said Councillor Richard Hilton. "As a grammar school boy myself, I’m forever grateful for the opportunities my education gave me and I don't want to see those opportunities denied to others just because of where they live or because of party political squabbling."
Merton Council Leader Stephen Alambritis said: "I don't think grammar schools are the way forward. The focus should be on the excellent state schools in our borough."
Anyone who lives, works or studies in Merton can sign the petition at www.merton.gov.uk/petitions.
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October 29, 2013