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Independent but not indifferent

Susannah Kirkman (TES2, September 15) does an injustice to independent schools by suggesting that "only a handful still struggle to honour the aims of their founders."

It is commonly, but unjustifiably, believed that schools "charging fees upwards of Pounds 10,000 a year" are ipso facto failing to fulfil their original purpose of providing "free education for children of the deserving poor". Yet these schools offer scholarships and bursaries; most scholarships are limited in value unless need is proved, in which cases bursaries top them up. Full bursaries are related to need.

Members of the Independent Schools Information Service educate 80 per cent of independent-sector pupils. In these schools 28 per cent of children (almost 130,000) are helped with their fees. In 84,000 of these cases it is the schools themselves which provide the help.

D J WOODHEAD National Director

Independent Schools Information Service

56 Buckingham Gate

London SW1

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