Michael Gove has Plans for Covert Schools SelectionAfter an official document for schools was leaked Michael Gove has been under fire of accusations of planning to let schools select pupils, schools favouring children they believe are more likely to produce better results.

Ed Balls warned tonight of a "full scale assault" on comprehensive education.

The shadow schools secretary spoke out after the Guardian obtained a leaked government document which appeared to suggest the admissions code could be dropped as part of a drive to allow academies to run more efficiently. The school admissions code is designed to prevent teachers from covertly selecting pupils, for example by interviewing parents.

The government document was used by Clare Simpson, an education department official, to brief teaching unions on 7 July. The first slide for the presentation was headed: "Reducing bureaucracy in schools". The ninth, headed "review of requirements on schools", suggested five proposals to ease the burden on schools. The second said: "The admissions code?"

Balls said: "It's shocking that the government is contemplating scrapping the admissions code under the guise of reducing bureaucracy. The plans Michael Gove is railroading through parliament already risk creating social division and a two-tier system. Without the safeguard of a tough admissions code that will be exacerbated."

A spokesman on behalf of the Department for Education said: "Ed Balls's leadership campaign is so desperate it is reduced to confecting lies that even a child can see through. The coalition is committed to comprehensive education and plans to introduce a pupil premium to demonstrate support for the poorest children."

Balls believes firmly the bill's weakness in this area means that the admissions code could be watered down: "What's happening at the moment is nothing less than a full scale assault on comprehensive state education," he said. "Local authorities are being cut out of the picture, the best schools given extra funding at the expense of those who need support and new free market schools being set up while school buildings are cancelled."

The document was leaked to the Guardian as Lib Dem backbenchers indicated they were uneasy about the haste in changes and are prepared to rebel against the bill. They were boosted today when Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, admitted his party does not agree with the academies bill. "The academies bill – no, we wouldn't have supported," he told Radio 4. "We need to be clear that when things come from the Conservative stable [we say] this is not our proposal but we have accepted it as it is part of the package."

Thousands of primary, secondary and special schools could become academies – independent state schools that have opted out of local authority control. This would signal the biggest change to England's school structure since the 1960s.

The Tories have enacted parliamentary procedures usually reserved for emergency counter-terror laws to rush the legislation through by the summer recess next week. Gove wants the bill to become law quickly so that schools can become academies as early as September.

Mike Hancock, the Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, said: "There are few things more important than education, and if my actions make problems for me, so be it." He added that the bill was "full of gimmicks".

David Ward, MP for Bradford East, said he had "big reservations" about the bill and would "probably abstain" from Monday's vote.

John Pugh, MP for Southport, is considering voting against the bill and has tabled amendments for Monday. "Good government is not about hastily ramming ministers' projects through the Commons, but about proper scrutiny and evidence-led policy," he said. Two other MPs have tabled amendments to the bill.

Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, said: "In a time of austerity the last thing we need is to set up rival establishments. I would prefer these parents use their enthusiasm to improve their local schools."

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said Cameron had only given the Lib Dems a good deal in the coalition because his party is providing cover for the Tories. "His brand, including most of his MPs, is toxic and it is not my job to detoxify it."

The presentations were by Nick Clegg and David Cameron, Danny Alexander and George Osborne and, finally, Chris Huhne and Gove.
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