Letter: Brightest and best?

Sir: The Government's wonderful windfall for the brightest children is absolutely in the right direction ("Heads attack high-flyers tuition plan", 22 March). The big drawback, though, is in the manner of selection of the top 10 per cent - by teachers.

When teachers select the gifted they almost invariably choose well-behaved children who are already highly achieving. Pupils who are outspoken and different are much less likely to be granted access to this bounty, no matter how great their potential.

It is vital that pupils be given some say in their own educational plans. The evidence is that it is their interests and enthusiasm which provide the basis of their future successes, not teacher approval. As with sport, every child should have the opportunity to practice and use extra facilities in other areas. I've termed this the Sports Approach in my recent Ofsted report on Educating the Very Able. It is an inexpensive route and could provide the means for the underachieving gifted to reach high levels.

Professor JOAN FREEMAN

London W1

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