Croydon parents who do not want to pay more than £12,000 a year to ensure a decent education for their sons will be delighted by an official decision over the admissions policy at three grammar schools in neighbouring Sutton.
Sutton Grammar, Wallington County Boys and Wilson’s School still operate a selection policy on entry at age 11, and they all accept many applicants from neighbouring boroughs, including as Croydon. Wilson’s is so close to Croydon, it is built on part of the site of the former Croydon Aerodrome at Roundshaw.
The highly rated schools have at least eight applicants for every available place that they can accommodate. Boys from across south London and Surrey attend the Sutton schools, with thousands entered for the schools’ demanding entrance exams next month to win one of the 360 or so places for entry in September 2011.
With excellent results at GCSE and A level and just a short bus ride away, the three schools have proved a popular choice of many Croydon parents who are wary of the reputations of schools in their own borough, and often face the alternative of trying to find tens of thousands of pounds every year in fees for their child to attend Croydon independent schools Whitgift, Trinity or, for girls, Old Palace.
The “Sutton option” might have been under threat for those in Croydon, though, after parents in Sutton lodged a formal complaint that too many applicants from outside Sutton were being accepted, at the expense of Sutton boys.
The complaint said that the combination of an “infinite catchment area” and the schools’ highest rank order selection means ordinary Sutton children are in unfair competition. The complaint did not challenge the admission policies of Sutton’s girls selective schools.
The complaint was considered today by the schools adjudicator, who ruled against forcing Wilson’s, Wallington and Sutton from changing their admissions policies.
The adjudicator, Janet Mokades, agreed that there are valid concerns about the chances of boys from the most disadvantaged areas of Sutton.
It could mean that the position is reconsidered at some point in the future, when it may become more difficult for Croydon boys to win entry to the schools.
Damien Charnock, the head teacher at Wilson’s, told the Sutton Guardian, “We recognise that the objection raised serious issues which we have no intention of ignoring.
“It is a fact that the number of applicants to this school has risen very significantly over the last 10 or so years and that has placed greater pressure on places.
“The Governing Body will be considering a range of possible ways in which we might be able to limit to some extent the number of applicants to the school and protect the interests that Sutton parents have in our school.