Sunday, 21 February 2010


If I were a member of Leeds City Council, I would be wondering now if we hadn't found ourselves a right old cuckoo in the nest. Education Leeds is calling meetings that people aren't attending, then making decisions based on presumed apathy or by agreement by default. Everything is wrong about the single-sex school meetings. We need experts, and interested parties, not a half-hearted call through some sections of the local media for Joe and Josephine Public to give up Corrie on a very very cold winter's evening and debate fine educational points with a group of so-called professionals who both put the motion for the opposition and chair the meetings.

If the future of single-sex education was a genuine debate, and not a skirmish over getting a hold of the Parklands:the building, Leeds should hold a conference, bring in some knowledgable speakers from both sides of the debate, include a representative group of parents, teachers, older articulate teenagers [especially those who have attended single-sex schools] social workers. mental health workers, religious leaders and other interested bodies.

I personally spent five very happy and academically successful years at Leeds Girls High School, and then two years drowning at mixed Allerton Grange Sixth Form. From which I cannot draw any universal conclusions.

I myself wouldn't choose, in the first instance, to send a child to a single-sex school, but I can see circumstances when it might be the best option. I can certainly see that a town with a large Asian community [of different faiths and cultures] would be be well-advised to retain such facility. It must be a very attractive option, especially to newly-arriving families.

If parental choice counts for anything, Parklands, if for no other reason, should stay.

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