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Hackney's A-level successes. . .

It is a pity that the otherwise thoughtful article by Neil Fletcher (TES, October 3) was spoilt by his need to denigrate achievement within the London borough of Hackney.

Mark Lushington's letter in the same edition addressed the improving GCSE pass rates in Hackney but we wish to take issue with Mr Fletcher's comments on A-level students' achievements.

Does Mr Fletcher know that of the nine secondary schools in Hackney, six are 11 to 16? We think that, if he did, he would agree that their opportunities for sending students to university are limited.

This school is one of the three which still has a sixth form. Last year's leavers include 27 going on to university, already more than Mr Fletcher's couple of dozen. True, a small number of these students are over 18; true, nearly half of these were not A-level students - we value advanced GNVQ achievement, does he? We also value those students who have decided to take a year out before going to university, those who have decided against university and who have gone into employment, and the one student who is doing a further education signing course as her ambition is to teach in special schools.

We see no reason why the other two 11 to 19 schools in the borough should not have similar success stories. Perhaps a little checking of the facts by Mr Fletcher would not have been out of place?

JANET BALOGH Head of Sixth ANDY WAUGH GNVQ co-Ordinator The Skinners' Company's School 117 Stamford Hill London N16

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