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LETTER: Better ways of spending money for education

From Mr K. G. James

Sir: Why give such prominence to yet another piece of meaningless educational "research"?

The study, based as it was on just one group of children born in 1958, cannot be taken as relevant to any group born even just a few years later, and is certainly not relevant to children at school today. In 1958, the grammar schools were providing bright children from all socio-economic backgrounds with a first-class academic education at least as good as that available in the private sector, regardless of ability to pay. Eleven years later, most of those grammar schools were still around, selecting their pupils in the same way as the study team assessed them. Indeed, many of the studied group will have completed their secondary education under the guidance of grammar-school teachers, even if by then their schools had gone comprehensive. In circumstances like these, it is hardly earth- shattering to find that paying for education just wasn't worth it. (Note the use of the past tense!)

Today the grammar schools have gone, and those parents who seek a guaranteed high-quality academic education for their children either have to pay or choose where they live very carefully. For far too many people neither option is viable. Instead of continuing to research this one group of 35-year-olds that went through an education system that no longer exists, Professor Saunders would be better employed looking at today's circumstances to see if there are any bright children out there who are being prevented from achieving their full potential simply because their parents can neither pay the fees nor afford to move. I think we all know what he will find.

Yours faithfully,

K. G. James

Blagdon, Avon