Letter: Labour's new education policy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Peter Kilfoyle (letter, 25 June) defends Diversity and Excellence with such obvious conviction that he may feel enough confidence in Labour's new education policy to answer some questions about its contents.

1. If foundation and community schools are to enjoy virtually identical status and funding, what is the purpose of creating two sectors within the secondary system?

2. If selection in general is to be discouraged or prohibited, why does the new policy only rule out a "return to selection through the 11+" - a notion that no one of consequence supports.

The objection to Diversity and Excellence is the opportunity it provides for social selection - the ability of articulate and self-confident parents to talk their children's way into "the best" schools. This will not be overcome by promising "locally agreed" admissions procedures. Nor will it be overcome through academic selection by methods other than the 11+. Some localities will joyfully endorse the creation of a hierarchy of schools. Therefore,

3. Will the selection criteria "laid down by the Department for Education" specifically exclude all forms of social and academic selection?

The paragraphs in Diversity and Excellence that deal with funding promise a "fair and open" allocation of resources. No one will disagree with that. But some heads will interpret it as a provision of extra resources for schools with large sixth forms and exemplary examination results. Others will believe (as I do) that special provision must be made for schools in areas of deprivation.

4. Since it seems unlikely that "fair and open" funding means equal per capita grants for all secondary schools, what is the formula to be?

Yours sincerely,

Roy Hattersley

MP for Birmingham

Sparkbrook (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

26 June

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