Tudor Grange Academy admissions proposals cause concern

Proposed changes to a Solihull school's admissions policy to favour faith schools over the catchment have angered parents, says the council.

Tudor Grange Academy has proposed giving priority to children at Tudor Grange Primary Academy, St James and St Alphege C of E Junior School.

The councillor responsible for children said it had provoked "much reaction". An internet protest has started.

No-one from the academy was available for immediate comment.

A consultation period for the proposals ends on 28 February, according to the school's website.

BBC Local Live

BBC Local Live

The top priority for admissions would still be given to children currently, or previously, looked after by the local authority and those whose direct needs can only be met by the academy.

Priority would then go to the two Church of England schools.

More than 200 people have joined a group on Facebook as part of a campaign against the proposals and an e-petition has more than 500 signatures.

Joe Tildesley, the councillor responsible for children and young people for Conservative-run Solihull Council, admitted the authority had no control over how the academy sets its admissions policy.

But he has invited it to attend a council meeting next week.

'Chain reaction'

He said: "My responsibility is to all 40,000 children in Solihull.

"We have 14 secondary schools in Solihull, 12 of which are academies.

"If Tudor Grange decide to go down this road the danger is how it will impact elsewhere. Will it set off a chain reaction?

"I want an admissions arrangement in Solihull that is fair for all and it's not broken at the moment."

The British Humanist Association (BHA) says it has written to the headteacher, Jennifer Bexon-Smith, to express concerns that the proposals might constitute discrimination under the Equality Act.

Pavan Dhaliwal of the BHA said: "We are seriously concerned that, as a result of these proposed admissions arrangements, children in Solihull may find themselves discriminated against on the basis of their parents' religion or belief. As a consequence, we would question the legality of what is being proposed."

Ms Dhaliwal added that she feared the move was "indicative of a wider trend of creeping incursions" by religious groups into academies which previously did not have any kind of faith ethos.

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