P.O. Box 921 Maidstone Kent ME14 5WZ
22 February 2002
Dear Secretary of State,
Thank you for the letter of 4th February from Gabriela Grimley under reference 2002/0005353TO.
My letter of 18th January was not primarily about the Government's policy toward grammar schools, although I must challenge one point made in your response. It is hard to reconcile the claim that ministers believe "further selection by ability would not enhance standards" with the Governments significant expansion of its specialist school programme in which selection as a principle (be it by ability or aptitude) is readily endorsed.
Rather, my letter was mainly concerned with the abuse of the petition / ballot legislation by anti-selective campaigners. You did not really deal with this matter.
No doubt you would agree that the regulations administered by ERS are about measuring the extent of parents' feelings towards selection. They are surely not intended as a means of making a political point, involving the harassment of all our schools, when there is apparently no intention to collect signatures. If nothing else, we thought your Department would not condone the waste of public money on this exercise.
You do not respond on these matters or on our suggestion to deal with them, except to say that all schools are required to have details of those with parental responsibility. If you really believe that the call from ERS, to provide registers of eligible parents, only entails the copying of an existing list, then the Department is not in touch with the real situation in our schools. The last time a petition was launched in Kent it took several months before ERS had collated a register of eligible voters.
Once again, we urge you to consider introducing effective means to block irresponsible applications to ERS and thus prevent the scandalous waste of public money and unnecessary work for all our schools.
E. A. B. Hammond