A little bit of common sense

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
OF course, one is tempted to say that if there are any bog-standard schools then it's the result of a government which has deprived half the secondary sector of buildings and staffing and brought about the recruitment crisis it now faces. The statement is a verdict on the Government's own failings.

Everyone in comprehensive education wants excellence and specialisation appropriate to every child's needs and gifts. A two-tier system won't make any difference. Specialism, yes - but the specialist policy is not only ill thought out, it's a fraud in which the additional specialist facilities are unavailable to between 90 and 95 per cent of the potential beneficiaries. What sort of bog-standard officials dreamt up such a crassly inefficient scheme?

If Tony Blair is serious about wanting specialism to enliven education and bring out the tlents of the nation's youth let's start with a bit of common sense, currently notable by its absence.

As director of the Centre for the study of comprehensive schools (CSCS) I believe in specialism - available to everyone in an area - using groups of schools, each of which offers specialism allied to the resources of business, sports clubs, arts organisations, faith communities, in fact, the whole community.

John Marks of the right-wing Institute for Policy Studies believes, like CSCS, in a vitalised comprehensive system. Instead of polarising debate in a pointless and depressing way why not bring together views from left and right, and reach the sensible solution which would suit everyone.

Mark Hewlett

Director, Centre for the study of comprehensive schools

University of Leicester

Moulton, Northampton

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