Letter: Labour's plans for 'fairness and opportunity' in education

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The Independent Online
Sir: Some of Roy Hattersley's criticisms of the Labour Party's new education document Diversity and Excellence are hard to follow.

Unfairness in education usually involves two parallel education systems: one clearly superior to the other, where the less favoured have no option but to accept the status quo. Thus - and Roy Hattersley is right about RA Butler's Education Act - secondary modern pupils knew very well that their schools did not enjoy the privileges and status of grammar schools, but they could do nothing about it.

Under the Labour Party's new proposals, any community school can, if it wishes, convert to a foundation school. By restricting the right of both categories to set their own admissions criteria, and ensuring that all schools have identical funding, the most important inequities of the existing grant maintained system should disappear.

Roy Hattersley is not usually unfair but I feel he is in this instance. How, for example, does he know that the new foundation schools "will wish to interview parents"? Most grant-maintained schools don't do so now.

I suppose an objective assessment of the new proposals emerges from a comparison of Mr Hattersley's comments with those of, for example, the chairman of the Grant Maintained Schools Foundation, whom you quote ("Labour emasculates opted-out schools", 22 June) as saying that opted-out schools were being "killed by a thousand cuts", or with the Local Schools Information Service statement that "it spells the end of grant-maintained status and the beginning of equality and fairness for all pupils''.

Who knows, Tony Blair's party may have just about got it right.

Yours faithfully,


Brookmans Park


22 June