No need for schools swap—Mrs Thatcher
Birmingham does not have to let Sutton and Birmingham children exchange secondary school places, said Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the Education Minister.
In an interview with the “Evening Mail,” the Minister said there was no reason why the two school system should not run side by side.
Birmingham, which selects children for grammar places at 11, and Sutton which selects them at 12, combine into one new authority next year.
More than 260 Birmingham children have already sat the first part of Sutton's 12-plus examination, for entry to a Sutton grammar place next year.
Side by side
Birmingham says that parents could appeal to Mrs. Thatcher that the new authority was acting unreasonably if it did not offer all places in the new authority area to all children of the correct age.
Mrs. Thatcher told me today: “There are a number of authorities which have several different systems running side by side.
“There is no objection to them doing this.
“This applies to different ages of transfer in one authority.
“Under local government reorganisation this is bound to occur for some time.
“I would not have thought that running the two systems side by side would have been unreasonable.
“On the other hand, I cannot say that it is necessarily unreasonable to run them together.”
Sutton Coldfield has announced it will make a “stop the swap” appeal to Mrs. Thatcher.
The Minister declined to comment on what decision she might take.
She said: “However, I can say that it will do a child no good to spend one year in a secondary school and then transfer to another system.
“Neither will it do a child good to spend only three years out of four in a middle school and then transfer.”
Mrs. Thatcher clamed fears expressed in Birmingham that the city would lose some of the building projects which have been frozen in the pipeline for three months under the Government's Phase Three policy.
The Minister said local authorities would be given an extra three months in which to put their plans forward for the projects delayed.
Mrs. Thatcher said Government limits on the amount local authorities can spend on school buildings would be raised in January.
The rise in cost limits would vary from region to region.
Birmingham has expressed fears that it cannot build any more primary schools of adequate standard under the present cost limits.