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Great expectations

As a British parent living in France, I am often surprised by your headlines. After calls for a return to whole-class teaching (never out of fashion here), I read that "Children should stay at school till 5.30pm" (Education+, 19 June).

In France, secondary pupils attend school from 8am to 5.30pm The French do have a demanding curriculum, studying science and arts subjects up to the age of 18. But now the UK is thinking of introducing a similar "Baccalaureate-type" examination. How can this be done when the school day is so short?

Many expatriates here reluctantly admit that French children work harder and have a broader education. Expectations are so much higher.

Ann Cand, Saint Gratien, France

Quantum rethink

I think that Ms Jardine's physicist friend (Education+, 19 June) is wrong. "Quantum" refers to the source of the idea not the size of the leap. It comes from ideas in quantum theory. The electron "jumps" from one energy level to another, without ever having any of the intermediate values of energy. It is as if you could jump from the bottom of a cliff to the top, without ever being on the way up. A quantum leap of understanding means therefore that you have reached a new level without having to have worked through the intermediate states that most people would consider necessary.

John Partridge, Redditch, Worcestershire

Companion volume

May we assure John Izbicki (Education+, 19 June) and Independent readers on three points. First, we do consider the UK to be part of Europe. Second, that our recent volume, a Biographical Dictionary of North American and European Educationists is, as stated in the first sentence of the introduction, a companion volume to our Dictionary of British Educationists, published in 1989. Third, that Cyril Burt and Kurt Hahn are included in this.

Richard Aldrich and Peter Gordon

Institute of Education, London

Budget priorities

Priority indicates precedence - as in "Education will be our highest priority" (Tony Blair, 1 May). The Chancellor's decision to stay within overall spending limits does not affect this pledge - it simply requires him to look again at spending priorities and move education to the top of his agenda, ensuring that this year the teachers' pay settlement is met in full, that we have sufficient teachers and books to deliver literacy and numeracy initiatives and that we make a start on repairing a damaged education system.

Pat Petch, Chair, National Governors' Council, Twickenham, Middlesex

One mother's thanks

On a warm June evening my husband and I watched our eldest graduate from an American high school, one of nine to graduate with honours out of nearly 400 students. We are an English family, living for two years in the prosperous Washington suburbs of northern Virginia.

We have a great deal to thank the high school for and are lucky enough to be able to do so in person. But we are conscious, too, of our son's fourteen and a half years of learning back in England. Those years have to figure large in our thanks. The achievement for which our son was honoured was a reflection of all that is good in the English state school system.

This is one mother's thank you for a stimulating and caring playschool, a primary school positively visionary in its approach and a secondary school daring enough at that time to keep at bay the restrictive shackles of a national curriculum.

We have no regrets that our eldest son completed his school days in America. He wouldn't have missed such a rich experience for the world. And he knows, as we do, that it was his English years that shaped him into the man who was honoured the other day.

Anne Abbott, Reston, Virginia, USA

Petty rules help bullies

Bullying teachers are indeed a problem (Education+, 12 June). The profession is crawling with them. The answer is simple: reduce opportunities for bullying by reducing petty rules. Teachers who victimise pupils over trivial things like their appearance, uniform and straying outside the building during breaks are as much bullies as any playground thug.

Mark Tate, London, N16

Please send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Editor, EDUCATION+, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Include a daytime telephone number. Fax letters to Education + on 0171-293 2451; e-mail: