Letter: Could do better

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NO DOUBT Gerald Kaufman has his reasons for writing such a bitchy review of George Walden's memoirs. ("The diary of a nobody", Culture, 2 May). What is depressing, however, is to find him describing as a "crackpot scheme" Walden's proposals to ease the calamitous private/state education divide in this country by inducing former direct-grant and some independent schools to rejoin the state system. After all, the main reason why the standards in most of our state schools continue to lag behind those of our continental partners is that the great majority of our better-off and influential parents with high expectations do their utmost to opt out of state education, unlike their opposite numbers on the Continent who send their children to state schools and go on the barricades if the system fails them. If New Labour is not prepared to support an openly meritocratic system, why not admit it, instead of rubbishing serious proposals to deal with one of our most debilitating problems?


Eastbourne, East Sussex