Val Letheren cross about our press release. Read full text of letter to Bucks Free Press
Val Letheren, the Chair of Bucks County Council Education Scrutiny Committee, phoned us last week and demanded that Wycombe Labour correct a press release.
Ms Letheren did not dispute our main point that neither BCC nor the grammar schools had published any data on the new 11+. She was not concerned that pupils are sitting the exam for the second year when there are serious concerns that it is neither a good test of ability or fair.
Nor did she dispute our point that BCC has not scrutinised the validity or fairness of the new 11+. She seemed unconcerned that BCC had not taken its statutory responsibilities to scrutinise the admission policies of the grammar schools seriously.
No, what made Ms Letheren cross was our comment about the continuing confusion in the Scrutiny Committee in getting to grips with the results of the 11+.
We said a detailed scrutiny was meant to have taken place on 4 Nov. It didn’t. This is confirmed by BCC’s official minutes.
The scrutiny is now to take place on 19 November. However that is the day when Ms Letheren has invited local “schools and school governors” to attend a “Schools Conference”. This is advertised as “a special meeting to participate in key inquiries being undertaken by the Select Committee this year”, including the results and analysis of the new 11+.
But Val Letheren says in the Bucks Free press that only the Select Committee will be allowed to ask questions of the grammar schools who will attend.
So are the non-grammar school heads and governors being invited to a conference where they can participate and ask questions about the 11+? Or will they be expected to sit quietly and listen to Scrutiny Committee members, mainly Tory Councillors, ask questions.
Are we going to have a robust debate by those who have a key responsibility for the education of our children or is Ms Letheren going to treat them like Victorian children - seen but not heard.
David Williams QC
Labour Party PPC for Wycombe