Letter: Schools for the rich

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Eric Hammond contends that abolition of the grammar schools would "lead people with means to put their children into independent schools instead of grammar schools. It would be choice by the purse rather than by ability" ("Third of grammars under threat", 1 September).

Here in Buckinghamshire we already have choice by the purse. Many parents with means put their children into the county's thriving independent preparatory schools with the simple objective of ensuring that they pass the 11-plus and gain a grammar school place.

They do this because independent schools in the county can train their pupils as much as they wish in the verbal reasoning techniques required to pass. State schools in the county (such as the one my 10-year-old daughter attends) may not.

Not surprisingly, independent school pass rates exceed state school pass rates by a wide margin because bright children from poorer backgrounds - whom the system is supposed to pick out - have to compete not with brighter, but with infinitely more carefully trained children, whose parents pay to beat the system.


Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire