Letter: Labour blots its copy book on diversity of education

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article (27 July) on the Labour Party's education policy asks of the grammar school question: 'Will Labour override local choice and ban selection?'

There are three sets of choosers. First, there are members of the public. Usually, when pollsters ask the question, the response is that the general public rather likes grammar schools. Views on secondary modern schools are seldom canvassed. The second set, whose children are in grammar schools or have a good chance of being selected for them, are also in favour.

However, some 80 per cent of parents, in an area where grammar schools still exist, have to send their children to schools from which the highest-performing and many of the most highly motivated children have been removed.

My experience of administering such systems is that a large majority of that 80 per cent majority strongly preferred schools which included all children, in particular their own. So, where 'local choice' is at issue and if parents are to rule, perhaps the first people to ask are all the parents of children in the local primary schools. If they are happy with a system from which most will be excluded, so be it. If not, there are some hard decisions to be made about whose parental preferences are to prevail.

Yours faithfully,

PETER NEWSAM

London, WC1

27 July

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