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Give the Brethren a break

Your report on the tribunal to consider Sue Collins's case against the Exclusive Brethren (TES, May 27) and the one on inspectors' praise for them (TES, March 18) were both negative about the Brethren's principles.

I have had an input in the education of some 500 Brethren pupils, but am not a member of the sect and do not share all their views. I suggest a more balanced report would indicate the many strengths in their approach.

You quoted Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, who is concerned about the "abuse" of children deprived of computers, television, radio and videos. But Brethren parents consider other children are abused by what they encounter through these media.

You report that "women are supposed to be subservient to men" but do not refer to the love and respect Brethren men have for their wives, often in contrast to what I encountered while working in comprehensive schools.

You referred to restrictions in the curriculum, but failed to say that these pupils are well-informed. They follow standard textbooks and national syllabuses, read quality newspapers and are closely involved in their parents' businesses. They travel widely, are valued and trusted by their parents and develop mature and confident personalities long before they leave school.

Before we condemn a group dedicated to high achievement, let us be sure, as state-sector teachers, that our house is in order, that our pupils are not abused by what we and their parents expose them to, and that talk of women's rights result in more than lip-service to the idea of sexual equality.

Humphrey M Dobinson

6 Linley Close, Swindon

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