FURTHER to your article (LET, May 17) I agree that Blackburn with Darwen's schools admissions policy seems to be in utter chaos. It seems more than coincidence that the debacle has come about since responsibility for education passed from Lancashire County Council to the towns' new unitary council.

I am not convinced, however, by your interpretation that the 29 pupils from Daisyfield (12) and St Stephen's (17) schools have been offered places at Pleckgate at the expense of an identical number of pupils from Lammack and 19 from St James's who applied to go to Pleckgate, as their first choice.

What should be identified is the number of children whose first choice was Pleckgate compared with the places offered.

As I have said, it may well be that the parents of only 18 children from Lammack applied to go to Pleckgate. Equally, it may well be that, say, 70 children applied from St Stephen's.

Assuming the criteria referred to by Councillor Sheila Williams is strictly adhered to, then a lot of pupils at Hawthorns, Brookhouse, Roe Lee, Daisyfield and St Stephen's either have special needs or live very close to Pleckgate as, based on the numbers shown, about 112 are new pupils without siblings at the school already.

They must all, of course, live closer to the school than Mr Andrew Cairns, who lives in Rhodes Avenue, which is off Pleckgate Road and probably a five-minute walk from Pleckgate school.

The comparison information I refer to should show the robustness of the council's claim that its criteria is applied to all cases without exemption. The Council will argue that a child's primary school is irrelevant as the criteria does not include any reference to the primary school a child attends but, nevertheless, I think it will give a broad indication of the council's overall criteria application.

Generally speaking, parents send their children to schools near to where they live and there will be a strong correlation between the two. For example, I should think the majority of the children at Lammack will live in the Lammack and Pleckgate areas of Blackburn.

I also think that children attending St Stephen's are likely to live in the Little Harwood area of Blackburn.

On a much wider point, I wonder what the current funding arrangements are for Blackburn with Darwen's secondary schools?

Does the council fund entirely the cost of running, say, Pleckgate or Beardwood or Witton Park and similar secondary schools in Blackburn and Darwen? Does it partially fund the Roman Catholic secondary schools? What does it contribute towards the running of St Wilfrid's? Are the proportion of funds to the church secondary schools (both Roman Catholic and Church of England) likely to change, or have changed as a result of the creation of the Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority?

If the answer to this last question is yes, then the influence of religion on the school's admissions policy should diminish as the influence of the community, through the council, increases?

I live in the Lammack area, I have a son who attends Lammack and a son who goes to Pleckgate.

Based on the Council's own criteria, I should have no problem in sending my younger son to Pleckgate in September 2001 - or should I?

ANDREW LAIN, Columbia Way, Blackburn.

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