Letter: Message behind GCSE resignation

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Sir: Helen Williams's resignation as High Mistress of St Paul's Girls' School (18 August) is a sad example of market forces driving educational practice. It is particularly regrettable since Mrs Williams was not launching a new policy, but returning to a former one.

When my year took O-levels at St Paul's in 1970, we were happy to be restricted to six subjects: five to fulfil UCCA requirements, and one for safety's sake. We avoided those subjects we would take at A- level, instead following a stimulating variety of internally organised courses. We were thus wellequipped to embark on A-level study and, in time, university work, unlike many students today who find difficulty making the jump from GCSE to A-level


Mrs Williams's aim, like that of any good headteacher, was to offer the syllabus choices best suited to challenge and develop the abilities of her pupils.

The parents and governors who refused to acknowledge this have been lamentably short-sighted, not just in relation to St Paul's Girls' School, but in the message that they are sending to education as a whole.

Yours sincerely,


Senior Tutor

Mansfield College


18 August