Letter: Assisted places mean state cuts

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The Independent Online
Sir: The college in Wiltshire at which I teach has been forced to endure numerous cuts in its income from the Government over the last four years, in the name of efficiency savings. Fewer courses are now offered, class sizes have increased significantly, and 13 staff have recently been made redundant.

Wiltshire County Education Authority has just confirmed swingeing cuts in the budgets of all its comprehensive schools, giving a lack of government funding as its reason. In addition, the authority is about to cut all hardship grants for students in further education.

Meanwhile, the Government is providing more than pounds 200m each year to fund places at independent schools all over the country, through the Assisted Places Scheme, and if the Prime Minister has his way, that figure is set to double next year.

Many of the measures taken by the last two Conservative administrations have had significant beneficial effects on the education system as a whole. However, the system is now in danger of serious underfunding, and it is very difficult to reconcile this enormous state subsidy to a private system, with such a severe lack of cash for that which belongs to the public.

I M PERRY

Corsham, Wiltshire

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