“I am a parent in Milton Keynes where I have lived & worked for over 13 years. It was a conscious decision to live here rather than Buckinghamshire which champions selective education, because we wanted our children to attend comprehensive schools.
How naive I was!!
Buckinghamshire had for years creamed off the more able and my oldest child was soon drawn into the playground talk of 11+ from the age of about nine, the school then actually making provision for taking the exam, even though the local policy was for comprehensive provision. This possibly being due to a tradition from the days prior to Milton Keynes being a unitary authority and Bucks CC encouraging such practices.
However, to my dismay my youngest child of nine is now being taunted in the playground, by suggestions that to attend the local school is somehow an inferior option and that he should take the 11+. The school no longer makes provision for the actual test, and the performance measures available to parents suggest Milton Keynes comprehensive schools to be doing well, but still the parents push for this choice and the buses trundle the children the neighbouring Buckinghamshire towns.
In the middle of this is my middle child who should have been able to attend the local comprehensive school. Not much to expect, no having to sit a test of his ability which he may fail. However he hit the years when the schools were preparing to change the age of transfer to age eleven, from age twelve and so admission numbers were reduced and he didn’t get a place at either of the two nearby schools. He wasn’t in fact, offered a place anywhere but my enquiries found that only the school that had just been put into special measures could do so.
I wondered then if I should have let him try for the 11+ he might have passed and not had to cope with this rejection.
Appeals ensued all to no avail, and I couldn’t see why my child had any more claim on a place than the next child but apparently some are more worthy than my son, because at the age of 11 they had an aptitude for the schools speciality. I was utterly incensed with the whole farcical process.
So here we are now, my oldest daughter now doing well in year 12 at a local Milton Keynes comprehensive, my son in year 9 leaves the house at 7am to go to a Northamptonshire comprehensive and we wait and wonder for the youngest in year 5 !!!
I am passionate about comprehensive education being right for individuals and society as a whole, but our experiences demonstrate that the legislation currently in place is lacking if this is to be a reality, and fear the current bill does little to address the problems we have faced. I do feel enormously disappointed that nothing has been done to stop selection everywhere, as it continues to have a profound effect on neighbouring areas.”