HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1354-5W
Mr. Dhanda

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills under what circumstances a local education authority may close a grammar school under section 29 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 without(a) the consent of the governors and (b) a ballot of parents. [159791]

Mr. Miliband

Section 29 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 provides for a local education authority to propose the closure of any category of maintained school including a grammar school. The authority must first consult interested parties, including parents and governors. If, after considering the responses to consultation, they decide to proceed they must publish the proposals in the local newspaper, at the entrance to the school and in a local public place. Anyone may then submit comments or objections to the proposals. Where objections are submitted, the final decision on the closure will be taken by the local School Organisation Committee (SOC), or an independent schools adjudicator if the SOC cannot reach a unanimous decision. Both the SOC and schools adjudicator must consider a range of factors in reaching a decision, including the views of interested parties.

There is no requirement for a ballot of parents or the consent of the governors before proposals are published to close a grammar school. Ballots provide for the removal of selective admission arrangements, if enough parents vote in favour, from a school that is remaining open.