Letter: Comprehensives only work when everyone joins in

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The Independent Online
WHILE all the bickering is going on inside and outside the Labour Party, one fact remains unchanged. The comprehensive system does work but only when each school is built up of 25 per cent bright, high achievers, 50 per cent average pupils and 25 per cent below average. Every parent in the land needs to know and understand this. After that, it is indeed up to everyone to decide whether they want to be part of this collective responsibility or not.

Hard as the decision is for those who feel that their children are more precious than anyone else's, the fact is that a bottom-heavy local school, where the top 25 per cent have gone elsewhere, will never reach its aim of giving a proper education to all, and every parent who decides to put their children's interest first has to accept that they will be partly responsible when Britain still drags its heels into the next century, with 75 per cent of our youth underachieving.

In the inner-London school where I teach, nothing like 25 per cent of the pupils are high achievers - it is more like 10 per cent. Last summer we had a handful of pupils who each achieved 8, 9 and 10 A/A* grades in their GCSEs.

To those silent, committed parents who "gave" to the system, can we say thank you, for putting the local community first. You have proved it can be done. You have given untold stimulus to every class your child attended (children learn best from one another). You've kept the teachers sane, and your children have emerged all the richer for the mixture of cultures and experiences they have absorbed, alongside their academic results.

Would that more people (especially those of influence) had the confidence and vision to do the same.

Joan FitzGerald

London N1

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