Letter: Labour blots its copy book on diversity of education

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The Independent Online
Sir: Only an excessively generous marking system could award eight out of 10 to Tony Blair's education policy statement (leading article, 27 July). His document pays lip- service to diversity and parental choice. Tests of genuine commitment to both are provided by a party's attitudes to academic selection and independent schools (which are far from synonymous), but Labour remains hostile.

Its education spokesman, Ann Taylor, has said selection is incompatible with giving more attention to the needs and potential of every child. But huge numbers of parents believe the potential of every child can very well be realised in schools - independent or state - which select them for the kind of education which will best realise that potential.

Her equally prejudiced belief, expressed in an interview in February, that there are not 'large numbers of low-income families who have it as their main objective to get into private schools' is disproved not only by Mori surveys and daily experience, but also by demand for the assisted places scheme, which enables parents on modest incomes to choose independent schools.

This scheme embodies diversity and choice: Labour exposes the hollowness of its commitment to such concepts by confirming its intention to abolish it.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID J. WOODHEAD

National Director

Independent Schools

Information Service

London, SW1

28 July

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