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Letters extra: What all parents want

I am sure that my old friend John Marks would never want schools to be regarded as mere exam factories, manufacturing qualifications at the lowest possible price (article, 25 January).

All good parents want a full, rounded education for their children - which is why so many of them look to the independent sector (53 per cent according to a recent MORI poll) and why the Independent Schools Council (ISC) wants to enable more of them to achieve that ambition through its open access proposals (OASIS). It is surely a profitless task to try and establish value for money in education by reference to exam results alone. The real issue should be the value of the total education which a school provides in meeting the particular needs - and not just academic needs - of individual children. Parents should be given more power to judge the full, true value.

Our OASIS proposals would help provide them with it. Even the misleading financial calculations that have been done are flawed. The figures that are available for the costs of school places in maintained schools do not include capital spending and LEA administration. The ISC has for some time been trying to get a proper comparison out of the Government.

Alistair Cooke
General Secretary
Independent Schools Council
Grosvenor Gardens House
35-37 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1W 0BSnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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