Letter: School for caring

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Concentration on educational standards and nude bathing (what is it about the media's contributors that so fears the unclothed body?) have detracted from the purpose of Summerhill school ("Kool skools rool, OK?", 5 June).

Since the school's inception in 1924 there have been several changes, but the overwhelmingly important factor which has obtained throughout is the contribution the children make to managing their own affairs through self-government. Of all teaching this is the most important, providing as it does self-worth, self-reliance and self-discipline.

I attended the school from 1931 to 1942. I do not like being called "an experiment in education". Along with my predecessors, peers and successors I played and climbed trees, but I attended lessons also because I wanted to learn.

There have been many academic successes, a wealth of ex-pupils entering the arts and sciences, mathematics, history, philosophy, law, medicine and the caring professions; above all, decent adults have emerged who work and contribute to society.

It is a great sadness to me that so unique and valuable a school faces closure by a Labour government which is becoming obsessed by cost-effective meritocratic goals at the expense of sensitive care and understanding.

BRANWEN LUCAS

Hitchin,

Hertfordshire

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