Leading head teachers in Windsor have thrown down the gauntlet to the Royal Borough – by fiercely opposing any return to selection in their schools.

The Royal Borough invited schools across Windsor, Maidenhead and Ascot to let councillors and officers know their views on reintroducing selective or partially selective education.

Now Windsor Boys’ School headteacher Gavin Henderson, Windsor Girls’ School’s Gill Labrum and the head of St Edward’s Royal Free Middle School’s Rob Welsh have sent a joint letter - firmly rejecting the idea.

The heads say they have consulted with parents and governors, stating: “Selective education puts the high quality education available to all students at risk.

“A return to a more selective system is highly likely to worsen outcomes for the majority of young people, whether disadvantaged, just about managing or advantaged.”

The heads say point out that in 2016 the Royal Borough was the ninth highest achieving authority in England for pupils achieving A* to C grades in English and maths – better than neighbouring areas that allowed selection.

Windsor Boys’, in Maidenhead Road, and Windsor Girls’, in Imperial Road, are no longer run directly run by the council since getting together in 2015 as an academy to provide comprehensive education for pupils aged 13 to 18.

St Edward’s Middle School covers pupils aged nine to 13.

The response is a setback for the council which has indicated it might support reintroducing an element of selection in the Royal Borough.

At one point There were discussions with a grammar school in Buckinghamshire about allowing it to open a satellite in the Royal Borough, although it was later abandoned.

But council leader Simon Dudley was remaining sanguine. Asked about the letters received so far from schools he said: “We are very pleased to get them.”

A more positive response has come from other areas of the borough.

In Maidenhead the principal of Desborough College in Shoppenhangers Road, Paul Fraser, has written suggesting that his school and Newlands Girls School move to a new site together on the council-owned Maidenhead Golf Course. This could offer an education campus with 20 per cent of secondary places based on mixed ability.

From the Ascot area of the borough the much admired Charters Secondary School has declined to give an opinion at this stage.