Will school select bright pupils?

MOVES to allow a Portishead school to manage its own admissions policy have come under fire from councillors - following concerns

MOVES to allow a Portishead school to manage its own admissions policy have come under fire from councillors - following concerns staff could pick and choose their pupils.Gordano School is currently looking at the possibility of gaining foundation status which would allow it to opt out of local council control and be run by its own governors.The changes would also mean it could apply for charitable status, look at ways of improving the curriculum and manage the on site sports facilities.But the news has been greeted with caution by local councillors who fear if the move goes ahead, the 1,711-pupil school could be selective about its pupil intake.They say brighter pupils from areas outside Gordano's catchment could be given priority over more challenging pupils who live in the town.At a meeting of Portishead and North Weston Town Council on Wednesday night, councillors objected to the changes.Councillor Jean Lord said: "How many parents in Portishead would be happy if bright children were taken from Bristol and people living in the town were told there was not a place for their child?"Any admissions policy needs to be inclusive and if the school gets foundation status, safeguards need to be put in place to make sure this is the case."Councillor Arthur Terry said that although the school is promising the admissions policy will not change, new leaders of the school in the future may feel differently.Cllr Terry said: "People move on and there is no guarantee that anyone new at the school will not make changes to the admissions policy."People living in the town look first to Gordano School for a place for their child and this needs to be guaranteed."Councillors said as well as the admissions policy, they were also concerned about the affect the changes could have on the on site community sports facilities.Cllr Terry added: "North Somerset Council has invested a significant amount of money on sports facilities at the school."This proposal will give total control of these facilities to the governors and we need to ensure they will continue to be available to the community."Gordano School headteacher Graham Silverthorne stressed the admissions policy would remain inclusive if the changes went ahead.Mr Silverthorne said: "It is clear in the consultation document that we would never seek to cherry pick our students and by law we are not allowed to do so. In terms of the sports facilities we would aim to generate funds to improve them rather than take them away."I am disappointed the town council seem to have misunderstood the foundation application process but am happy to work with them to address any concerns.


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