ACTIVISTS fighting for an end to selective education in Buckinghamshire have vowed to step up their campaign in the New Year.

Anti-grammar school group Bucks Parents for Comprehensive Education (BPCE) has begun recruiting supporters in schools to rally support among parents and collect signatures for a petition to force a vote on ending the grammar school system.

Under Government guidelines, more than 18,000 signatures would need to be presented to the Electoral Reform Society before a referendum could take place.

BPCE chairman Malcolm Horne, a former leader of the National Union of Teachers, said: "When we start collecting signatures hopefully we'll have plenty of people to do it. What we find when we go out collecting signatures is that there is tremendous support for doing it, but we are doing an impossible job collecting that number of signatures.

"Schools aren't allowed to send out the petition forms, and we are not in a position to be able to post the petitions to any parents. We need to see parents and get them to sign, otherwise the returns are very poor."

The BPCE believes the 11 plus exam, which separates students into upper schools and grammar schools depending on their academic ability, is divisive and unfair. The group failed last year to collect enough signatures to force a vote.