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Readiness is all

Both correspondents (TES, September 7) were right to point out that being held back a year can have advantages for some pupils in some circumstances. But both failed to acknowledge the particularly harmful effects of the testing regime.

In England, "failure" (the word is used advisedly) at age 11 has stigmatising effects that severely damage many children's motivation and self-esteem. These effects would be magnified by their being held back a year. The deleterious effects of being held back are far less likely in continental education systems that don't subject pupils to the pressure and tyranny of high-stakes national testing and the consequent level-labelling that pupils carry with them.

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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