Letter: More to selective education than mere grammar schools

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The Independent Online
I find it slightly irritating to read yet again, as part of the education debate, the old myth that "technical schools, because of lack of will and lack of cash, never happened" ("Time to bring back grammar schools?", 23 June). According to some, I couldn't have been educated beyond 11 because the kind of school I attended never existed.

In fact, technical schools were numerous - and popular - in my area, to the east of London, where they did a good job producing the scientists, technicians and clerical workers needed by local industry and commerce in the 1950s and 60s.

My school's intake mainly consisted of 11-plus passers, although occasionally a pupil joined after passing the rarely used 13-plus. More radically, the school also accepted some students who had failed the 11-plus but received good reports from their primary schools.

The school's curriculum up to O-level was biased towards the sciences, office practice and accountancy, and what we now call Craft, Design and Technology subjects. Yes, there was streaming, but this wasn't inflexible: each September around 10 per cent of all second-, third- and fourth-year pupils changed classes as a result of their performance during the previous academic year.

Unfortunately, there weren't enough of them throughout the country for their successful combination of academic rigour and quasi-vocational training to act as a model for the emerging comprehensive schools.

K L Lane

Ilford, Essex