RESIDENTS in Ripon could soon be facing a referendum on selection of pupils for Ripon Grammar School and the neighbouring Ripon College.

Ripon City Council, which has parish council status, confirmed that a request for a poll would be tabled at its annual parish meeting on March 26.

It could be sparked if at least ten electors asked for it.

The cost of the poll, which has been estimated at £5,000, would fall on people in Ripon. The request has been made by Ripon resident Mr Stanley Macintosh who wants to see tests as the primary selection mechanism for year five pupils at Ripon secondary schools.

Mr Mackintosh has dubbed his idea the "Ripon scheme" which would mean that 11-plus tests and primary headteachers' recommendations would be abandoned for Ripon children. Instead a secondary school selection procedure would use results of tests taken each year at junior schools.

Last year people whose children had an interest in the Ripon secondary schools voted overwhelmingly to keep the 11-plus examination and selection for Ripon Grammar School. It was the first poll of its kind under new government rules in the country.

If the referendum goes ahead it would be first of its kind in Ripon since the city was swallowed up by the Harrogate district in 1974, leaving Ripon with only parish council status.

A spokesman for the city council said if the poll went ahead its organisation would be dealt with by Harrogate Borough Council. Mr Mackintosh said the upper 24pc under his scheme would be eligible for grammar school places without further testing. Others would be directed to non-grammar schools without further testing. He added only 27pc would take further tests if they wished to be considered for grammar school entry.

The request for the parish poll comes as North Yorkshire County Council is consulting widely on selection at its Ripon secondary schools.

l New procedure: page 13