Letter: Education for one and all

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The Independent Online
WE WERE appalled by Michael McMahon's article "The great divide" (27 September). Mr McMahon, on his own admission, when headmaster of a small preparatory school, allowed children with challenging behaviour only one week's grace before expelling them. Is this the model all schools are being encouraged to adopt?

He states that selective and private schools, taking in a tiny percentage of children, are successful because they are exclusive: children keep the right company, wear the right clothes and have the right accents, with parents who have the right bank balances or postal codes.

Mr McMahon is critical of social engineering but deplores the loss of the assisted places scheme and supports selection. This is real engineering. Examination results in both primary and secondary state schools have steadily improved. Ofsted surveys show that the great majority of parents are happy with the schools their children attend. Furthermore, there are many more ex-comprehensive students running British companies than those from the private sector.

All schooling must raise self-esteem and be careful never to block progression. Good, well-resourced comprehensive schools, with the full range of attainment and social mix on intake, will achieve this.

DAME TAMSYN IMISON, PAT CLARK, PAT COLLINGS, CAROLE CUTLAND, MIKE HARRISON, CLAUDE SCOTT, CHARLES SISUM, PHIL HOLDEN, BRIAN THOMAS, PROF GARY HOLMES, IAN PLIMMER, DR PAT MCGOVERN, GEORGE SHARPE, TONY JESSON

Hampstead School, London NW2

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