Fortismere plan is subversive and pernicious, says school governor

AS a governor at Alexandra Park School, I view the ongoing debate surrounding the future of Fortismere with concern, not to say alarm, and Claire Murdoch s contribution to the debate (H&H Broadway letters, May 24) is bizarre, to say the least. At Alexand

AS a governor at Alexandra Park School, I view the ongoing debate surrounding the future of Fortismere with concern, not to say alarm, and Claire Murdoch's contribution to the debate (H&H Broadway letters, May 24) is bizarre, to say the least.

At Alexandra Park we have always believed in the role of the local authority in supporting Haringey schools and coordinating education in the borough. Moving to foundation status is a big step to take and one that allows schools to set their own admissions criteria.

Judging by the way the Special Needs Department has been decimated since the arrival of the new head, it does not take a genius to work out that the first action of a newly-independent school would be to change the admissions criteria to discourage potential low achievers from gaining entry.

This would have two consequences:


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1. It would place extra pressure on other nearby Haringey schools - they would accept an increased proportion of the area's special needs children; and

2. It would assist Fortismere in ''achieving excellence'' and climbing the league tables - if you keep out the expected low achievers this is not hard to do.

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We are proud of being an inclusive school. In spite of receiving a high proportion of pupils with special educational needs, we are recognised for the quality of pastoral care and academic support we provide.

By opting out of local authority control, Fortismere would take the first step in turning itself into a 'grammar' and consequently would create the perception that other local schools are inferior, or 'secondary modern'.

This is a subversive and pernicious process that could begin to undo much of the progress that has been made in all Haringey schools in recent years.

To return to Claire Murdoch, she calls for a constructive debate and claims to be worried about polarisation, yet her letter is far from balanced - it is a rallying cry to support the current Head and the push to achieve foundation status. She also says ''the school has been without strong direction for a long time.'' This can only be intended as a slur on former head Andrew Nixon who led Fortismere with authority and distinction for many years and was held in the highest regard.

Nigel Scott

Warberry Road, N22

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