A Torquay grammar school
is hoping to exploit new government rules which allow successful schools to expand by taking over an existing private school to establish a selective “satellite”. The local paper
understands that the target of the possible take-over is Stover School
, a boarding school with a nursery attached, based in Newton Abbot. However, the governors of Stover School said it was “news to them.” Stover School governors thought that an article, published in the Sunday Times on 13 November 2011, was “speculative” and designed to draw attention to the new government rules.
The head teacher of Torquay Boys’ Grammar School, Roy Pike, Chairman of the Grammar School Heads Association, was quoted as saying, “I believe it is right that the legislation should allow all good schools to expand, whether selective or not. And where parents so wish they should be encouraged under the free school or academy banner to create new schools.”
The takeover by one school of another school raises the question of consultation. How would local people in the area of the target school be consulted? Or would they just be faced with a fait accompli? Would parents of children in the target school be asked? And when the school doing the taking over is a selective school then what effect would the satellite have if it were established in a non-selective area? Non-selective schools could expect to lose some of their top ability pupils.
If a grammar school were successful in establishing a selective satellite, it presumably would take place under the free schools initiative. But making a free school selective is against the rules laid down by the Government. Or could selection be reintroduced covertly by the simple means of making the satellite part of an existing school?
Mr Pike told the Sunday Times that “In some areas the demand for selective education is unbelievably high.” But “demand” should not be confused with need. “Education at a Glance 2011”,
published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), found that the best-performing education systems in the world tended to be those which were most inclusive – they did not segregate pupils academically or by virtue of where they lived.