Governors criticised by government in Fortismere admissions row

PUBLISHED: 12:21 31 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:25 07 September 2010

By Marijke Peters THE Government has criticised governors at Fortismere school for acting unreasonably in the row over admissions. The Department for Education and Skills has written to chairwoman Jayne Farrell to insist the school sticks to its publish

By Marijke Peters

THE Government has criticised governors at Fortismere school for acting "unreasonably" in the row over admissions.

The Department for Education and Skills has written to chairwoman Jayne Farrell to insist the school sticks to its published A-level admissions requirement of five A* to C grades.

It was asked to intervene by Haringey Council and members of the Keep Fortismere Comprehensive (KFC) campaign, after headteacher Aydin Onac attempted to make it harder for students to join the sixth form by raising the entry requirement to five A* to B grades.

Head of school admissions, organisation and governance at the DfES, Shan Scott, wrote: "We have received complaints from Haringey local authority and a parent about the admission criteria you have published.

"The prospectus sets out additional requirements which would have the effect of preventing any candidate with five C grade GCSEs from securing a place on any A-level programme.

"The secretary of state has considered these complaints and considers that this is a significant departure from the original five A* to C requirement, and that these arrangements have not been published with the agreement of the local authority, which is the school's admission authority."

In November last year Mr Onac wrote to parents to say students had to achieve five A* to B grades to stay on at sixth form.

In his letter he said: "Raising the game in terms of access to A-level courses, as well as progression to Year 13, should help to guide students towards success, as well as having a positive effect on motivation."

But parents were furious with the move, which they said was "selection by the back door".

Fortismere has consistently blamed the council for failing to carry out a consultation on the proposed changes.

A council spokesman said: "We were very concerned that the school published revised admission arrangements - despite being advised by both the DfES and ourselves in November 2006 that the admission policy for the sixth form could not be changed for the September 2007 entry.

"We will be ensuring that the direction is implemented as a matter of urgency so that students and parents are clear about the admission arrangements for Fortismere's sixth form as soon as possible."

Ms Farrell said: "We are querying the directive because it has instructed us to do something that would be a departure from last year's admission criteria.

"We haven't heard back from the DfES yet."

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