Concentrate on the basics

Many areas are already short of school places and schools are having to provide improvised accommodation or increase class sizes to cope with growing numbers. In the absence of adequate planning and funding by the Department for Education, the situation is set to worsen in the next two years ("Analysis predicts extent of school places crisis", News at a glance, 6 September).

Under the 1944 Education Act, the minister's very few powers and responsibilities included securing the provision of sufficient school places and the removal of air-raid shelters from school playgrounds - two duties successfully undertaken by ministers in the Attlee government. Seventy years later, the current secretary of state has accrued for himself a large number of extra powers and responsibilities but is failing to secure that most basic provision. He should be replaced with someone more concerned with fulfilling that remit.

Colin Richards, Cumbria.

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