Academy Head denies block on estate pupils

Coun Sue Loudon
Coun Sue Loudon

THE first Academy to be set up in the borough is trying to stop future council estate pupil intake, it’s being claimed.

Labour councillors claim Fred Longworth High School wants to re-draw the ‘measuring point’ from the front to the back of the campus as part of changes in the high school’s admission criteria for next year.

But headteacher Janet Garrett denied they were trying to excluse council house pupils.

Cabinet member for Children and Young People Coun Susan Loudon says the move will disenfranchise some potential pupils from the Hag Fold and Shackerley local authority housing. Councillors have agreed to officially protest to the school’s Board of Governors to demand a re-think.

But Ms Garrett dismissed the charge as “quite frankly complete nonsense.”

She says the measuring point is being moved because, for road safety reasons, the back is likely to be redesignated as the main entrance in the near future.

The aim is also to define the exact position of the measuring point for the first time in a decade to make the admission criteria more transparent and better understood, following legal advice from the Government.

Coun Loudon (right), who is an Atherton councillor, said: “By changing the criteria it will make it very difficult for children from Atherton to gain a place there.

“But these changes, as long as they are lawful, are now not be within the control of the local authority and therefore we are unable to stop the measurement being done from this point.”

But Ms Garrett, who has been Head of the school for the past three years, pointed out that the high school had demonstrated its commitment to Atherton with an enlarged list of ‘Association’ (feeder) primary schools which is also part of the new admission criteria.

She said: “The move makes a lot of sense and has nothing to do with influencing the criteria against children from Atherton, absolutely not.”

Ms Garrett added that she was saddened about the way the new admission criteria had been portrayed and offered to meet Coun Loudon to discuss the suggested changes.