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Letter: Bright children

Sir: Your leading article sneering at plans to offer bright children extra tuition in state schools on the basis that it will not tempt Mr and Mrs Range Rover into the state system is really quite astounding (22 March). Is The Independent's readership now presumed only to include people whose children are at private school?

Many bright children, especially in London, who a generation ago would have gone to grammar school are now unable to do so because of the ridiculously high level of competition (over 1,000 applicants for 93 places locally). Private schooling, especially for larger families, is simply not an option.

Government plans therefore offer a glimmer of hope for many who feel their children have been unjustly relegated to the second division. While this sentiment is unfair to many comprehensive schools it is obvious from your letters page that Seventies dogma is still alive and kicking.

Surely the aim of any good school is to develop the full potential of any child, able or otherwise, and not to maintain an egalitarian utopia. Why is there such hostility to the idea, in some quarters, that some children are brighter than others? Why is it that helping the less able is to be encouraged, while stretching bright children further is "arbitrary and divisive" to quote from one of your more depressing correspondents.

Far from being a "gimmick", the Government's plans are a creative way to increase opportunities for a greater number of children, regardless of background. How can that be a bad thing? And whilst it may well not tempt Mr and Mrs Range Rover, it may well make a difference for a great many families who, far from being converted to comprehensive education, are stuck with it.


London N12