Letter: Loaded arguments to support opting out

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article today on opted-out schools ('A little light from school beacons') is an apology for the innumerate way that government decisions have been made since 1979. Decide what conclusion you want, give those who are doing what you want more money and power than those who are not and, hey presto, in a few years' time you will have 'proved' that what you wanted was 'right'. There is, unfortunately, the little matter of the real world to contend with. Nearly 14 years of this approach have produced few of the promised benefits and much backtracking.

It is time to stop pretending that decisions that will affect the nation's wellbeing for decades can be made on the back of an envelope (or in one paragraph of a leader). In the case of schools, it is a very open question whether there are any benefits in teachers spending (wasting?) time on becoming efficient managers, accountants and purchasing agents when they already have their time cut out as ersatz parents, social workers and even medical advisers, in addition to attempting to keep up with their subject matter, teaching techniques and constantly changing government-dictated requirements.

If we really want to find out what benefits opting out brings, there must be a level playing field; all schools must be equally funded, whether or not they are opted out. Then we can wait a few years, compare performances and reach valid conclusions; otherwise we can't, and the nation will continue going round in ever-decreasing circles.

How about setting the funding levels for all secondary schools at the level of the CTCs as a starting point? That should produce a few improvements.

Yours sincerely,

A. M. HULME

Sutton Coldfield,

West Midlands

31 March

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