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New bid to scrap grammar school ballots

LABOUR party chiefs are facing fresh pressure from anti-selection campaigners to scrap the law on grammar school ballots.

The campaign group Comprehensive Future is calling for the law allowing parents to vote on the future of the 11-plus to be ditched and for Labour to pledge to abolish selection in its next election manifesto.

Comprehensive Future consists of Labour party members, MPs, peers, union leaders and councillors.

It has made its call in response to a consultation on how Labour’s education policy should in future be shaped.

Although Labour states in a policy document that the party can “never return to the 11-plus” it sets out no policy proposals for the remaining 164 grammar schools.

Comprehensive Future says that is wrong and has urged the party to end selection in the next Parliament.

Its submission states: “Selection affects children and their educational opportunities. Ending it is too important to be left to petitions and ballots.”

The group points out that campaigners have litte chance of triggering a ballot because of “huge practical difficulties.”

“It is impossible for change to come through the existing petition and balloting procedures or through the decisions of adjudicators. Amending the existing legislation is not the way forward. How many general elections would be held if one in five of the electorate had to sign a petition first?”

The Kent Messenger Group recently revealed that £1.7million of public money had been spent on preparing for ballots that had never taken place. The bulk of this was in money paid to schools to compile lists of eligible parents.

The newspaper group exposed how a loophole in the law allowed campaigners to trigger the first and most costly part of the process even though they had no intention of moving to a full vote.

Ministers, however, signalled they had no intention of changing the rules or scrapping the ballot legislation.

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