Cameron's conversion to comprehensive ideal

20th January 2006 at 00:00
How welcome to read in the Daily Telegraph (January 10) that "David Cameron reversed decades of Conservative education policy yesterday by ruling out the creation of more grammar schools and endorsing the comprehensive system".

It is always good to welcome repentant sinners but the repentance does have to be sincere and complete.

So it is rather disappointing and illogical that Mr Cameron does not intend to abolish selection by ability, the degrading practice of educational apartheid, where it still exists and that he is content to continue and indeed much increase the use of selection by aptitude, which no one has been able to differentiate from selection by ability.

His policy appears to be a slippery eel indeed - and not very different from the policy of the present Labour government which also refuses to abolish selection and is happy to continue with selection by aptitude!

What is interesting, however, is that he feels the need to announce this new policy, recognising that parents have a deep aversion to the 11-plus and the injustice and segregation it entails.

Those of us who have been campaigning within the Labour party for many years to abolish selection altogether take heart that both parties now at least feel the need to genuflect towards the comprehensive principle, however much they transgress against it in practice.

With the forthcoming education Bill there is an opportunity for members of all parties to purge us of the hypocrisy of claiming we believe in comprehensive education while allowing selection to continue to fail thousands of children every year at 11-plus.

The Socialist Educational Association, the only educational association affiliated to the Labour party, (website urges them to do so.

Malcolm Horne General secretary Socialist Educational Association 43 Orchard Grove Chalfont St Peter, Bucks

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