Letter: Children from poor homes thrive at fee-paying schools

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The Independent Online
Sir: I hope the information Mr IM Perry imparts to his students is more accurate than the figures he quotes in his letter referring to the Assisted Places Scheme (26 February).

The current cost of the scheme, which helps academically able children from low-income families to attend independent schools, is pounds 117m, not pounds 200m. Next year, as the scheme expands, it will be pounds 141m. The doubling of the number of pupils in the scheme will be achieved over several years if there is no change of government. Nor is this an "enormous state subsidy" to schools, which could fill their over-subscribed places with full fee- payers.

Almost 40,000 children currently benefit. They come from families with an average annual household income of only pounds 10,900. They demonstrate the wisdom of the investment in their education by achieving outstanding examination results; research last year indicated that they do better by up to three A-level grades than their contemporaries of similar abilities in other kinds of schools.

Underfunding of other parts of the education service should not be corrected by denying opportunity to tens of thousands of children from poor families.

DAVID WOODHEAD

National Director

Independent Schools Information Service

London SW1

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