UKIP launch campaign to build grammar school in Merton
An ideological battle over whether to build a new grammar school in the borough has been waged by UKIP councillors.
Merton's UKIP councillors have announced their vision to build a selective secondary school in Merton and have launched a petition on the council website in an attempt to garner support for it.
The petition calls on the council to "open immediate talks with the secretary of state" as well as with Sutton and Kingston Councils in order to look at options.
Councillor Suzanne Evans, leader of Merton's UKIP group, believes the building of the new school will end what she sees as a "selection by house price".
She said: "It is not fair that bright students whose parents cannot afford to send them to fee-paying schools or buy houses close to good schools should be held back.
"Getting your child into a good school in Merton is nigh on impossible unless you're Catholic or can pay for the privilege.
"Merton sits just below the national average on GSCE results and frankly it's only thanks to the exemplary performance of two private schools that we're even that high up the rankings."
However Councillor Martin Whelton, cabinet member for education, disagrees asserting that schools in Merton have some of the fastest improving GCSE results in country and that building a grammar school is not the solution.
He said: "All that introducing a more elitist school would do is make it harder for students within the borough to get in to it. "If you look at Sutton, people travel for 30 miles to get to the school.
"Grammar schools have the potential to write youngsters off at 11 years old.
"We need to serve all children, not the elite few. "We are looking at expanding the our existing secondary schools to cope with the growing demand for places."
Last month, a council report outlined plans to expand all eight of Merton’s existing secondary schools from 55 forms of entry up to 80, creating an extra 750 school places.
The petition lodged by Merton's UKIP has so far received eight signatures with UKIP's Richard Hilton, a grammar school pupil himself, yet to sign at the time of press.
View the petition on Merton Council's website.
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