Private tuition is not a betrayal

Has the Government done a U-turn on the comprehensive ideal? Yes. New Labour trumpeting of the need for "diversity" and "specialism" in state secondary education to replace the "one-size-fits-all" and "bog-standard" comprehensives has a familiar ring to it.

Thirty years ago Conservative champions of selective grammar schools would declaim against the soul-less uniformity of comprehensives. This was largely nonsense because comprehensive schools were very different in what they did and how they did it.

So varied were their approaches that the national curriculum and the Office for Standards in Education were devised to impose standards. Teachers toiled diligently to do what was required of them, only to find they were wrong - again.

So is the Blairs' employment of private tuition for their children symptomatic of New Labour's betrayal of comprehensive schools? No.

The reasons for paying for extra help are usually more to do with the individual student than deficiencies in their teaching. If it boosts the struggler's confidence it can be money well spent. But I hope the Blairs did not pay above union rates.

Andrew Connell

11 Mill Hill

Appleby, Cumbria

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