SOUTHEND is failing its youngsters by allowing three out of four grammar school places to be taken by children from outside the borough, according to councillors.

Opposition groups at Southend Council claimed the authority should do more to ensure a higher proportion of the town’s selective school pupils actually lived in the area.

Admission figures show 75 per cent of the intake at Westcliff High School for Boys and Westcliff High School for Girls in September 2011 – the latest statistics available – were children from primary schools outside the borough.

Ron Woodley, an Independent councillor for Thorpe, said: “We are not doing enough to ensure our talented children are being taught here.

“What we have is children coming in from Ipswich, being educated in Southend and then going back to Ipswich.

“What is that doing for the economy here? Nothing.”

Julian Ware-Lane, a Labour councillor for Milton, added: “This is a real issue for the town, which we need to deal with promptly.”

There are four grammar schools in Southend: the Westcliff schools, plus Southend High School for Girls and Southend High School for Boys.

In addition, St Bernard’s High School and St Thomas More High School also use specific criteria when admitting pupils.

The latest figures showed all had a rate of at least one in three pupils coming from outside the town.

However, James Courtenay, the Tory councillor responsible for education, said the statistics did not mean Southend youngsters were being disadvantaged.

He pointed out every child from within the borough who passed the 11-plus exam secured a place at a grammar school.

He said: “Southend does not have enough children, at this time, passing the 11-plus to take all of the places.

“Our grammar schools assist us with improving other local secondary schools, they teach teachers to teach, as well as making other contributions to the local community.”