EDUCATIONAL CLEANSING: RE 'Educational Cleansing' comments made by Mr John Williams, (Echo, Dec 10).

I would like to express my disgust at the comments attributed to the leader of Darlington Borough Council quoted in the Echo. He should be ashamed of himself.

It seems to me that his comments appear to be yet another attempt to bully the Governors of Hurworth School. - N Brown, Darlington.

ACADEMIES: NOT one person attending the open ,meeting at the Dolphin Centre spoke in favour of an academy.

Margaret Asquith informed the audience that there were '2,100 pupils in the Eastbourne area' - sufficient to fill an academy which we are told must be 1,200, yet Salford City Academy is 750, same size as Eastbourne School - so build it for Eastbourne, leave Hurworth in its rural location.

The council can submit an expression of interest for any schools to form an academy at any time, so why must it be Hurworth and Eastbourne, what is their underlying agenda?

We are told the reason for the merger is falling roles yet Hurworth is fully subscribed every year, so why not combine two schools which do have falling roles, ie Eastbourne/Branksome, or make a neighbourhood academy of Eastbourne/Heathfield and Dodmire?

The DfES website lists 27 academies yet divulges the results of only two, are the others so bad? Durham County Council and Redcar and Cleveland CC have not applied for an academy - why?

Perhaps because of the huge problems encountered at Middlesbrough's Unity Academy, which is in special measures. - B Baker, Darlington.

SORRY SAGA: "There has been no scandal" An interesting choice of words from Mr. Eamonn Farrar when he made his exit from Eastbourne School in Darlington and prepared to wing his way back to Hurworth.

Many would disagree vehemently. The proposal outlined by Mr. Farrar, supported by Hurworth School Governors and described recently as bearing all the marks of being 'written on the back of a fag packet' is ill-conceived, impractical and divisive in the extreme.

From someone feted latterly as Darlington's 'Secondary Education Tsar' it is a singularly narrow-minded approach to borough-wide difficulties.

Unfortunately, although saddened, I am not surprised at the most recent turn of events in this sorry saga.

The main reason I sought early retirement from Darlington Borough Council was the increasing influence of Mr Eamonn Farrar on wider secondary education policies and practices during the previous administration.

At the very least the lead on Secondary School Improvement in Darlington might in future reside somewhere less partisan.

This will however, be cold comfort for parents and pupils in Eastbourne, who deserved better, and parents throughout Darlington, wherever they reside, who need to ensure they are fully involved in any future decisions that will impact upon the educational opportunities available for their children. - Ann Gilling, Secondary Education Adviser DBC, 1997 -2003.

PROPAGANDA: WHAT hypocrisy Darlington Borough Council is displaying over the Hurworth/Eastbourne Schools issue.

Hurworth's determination to pursue Foundation School status first attracted council condemnation on the grounds that it would no longer be part of the "family of schools" and recently that it is an attempt at "educational cleansing by social class".

They must be getting really desperate, for it is the council that wishes to exterminate Hurworth and distort the facts for its own propaganda purposes.

John Williams' comments are perhaps all we should expect from the leader of a Labour cabinet which jumps on every passing bandwagon in a forlorn attempt to gain funds for a school which will never be built. Education vision? It's more a case of myopia as the Council attempts to expunge Eastbourne's problems at the expense of the 47th best school in the whole of the country (OFSTED 2004 Value Added Index) revealing a strategy bathed in cynical opportunism.

May I remind all parents that, whatever a so-called sponsor of an academy signs up to, 10% of pupils would be selected on ability or aptitude, having no catchment area restrictions imposed by the Local Authority as they operate completely and utterly outside its control.

The council seeks to divide communities by denying the truth which is that Hurworth has the national average percentage of pupils on free school meals, the single most telling indicator of socio-economic deprivation.

John Williams should be told to put his own house in order - at least one Labour councillor chooses the private Yarm School for his child despite living in the catchment area of the much heralded Education Village. - Peter Dodd, Hurworth.

CONFUSED: RE School debate (Echo, Dec 10). I became confused concerning council leader's statement over what would happen to the 300 displaced children if Eastboune School closed.

My confusion arose because I have recently studied the 'Darlington's Proposal for and Academy' leaflet.

The leaflet discusses the problems created by falling pupil numbers, it goes on to explain the Academy will address this issue and will, in fact remove 338 places which will become surplus.

Don't both proposals achieve the same result with regard to surplus pupil places? - Stephen Kyle, Hurworth.