Dependency culture;Letter;News amp; Opinion

10th December 1999 at 00:00
GEORGE MacBIRDE (Letters, December 3) tries to make a case for comprehensive schools. What he omits is the fact that even the local authorities that run them now accept they have their limitations. The search, belatedly, is to offer diversity where until recently the emphasis was on conformity in the cause of social engineering.

When every child is put into an educational context that seeks, no doubt with the best of intentions, to offer equality, neither the interests of pupils nor those of Scotland as a whole are well served.

The comprehensive school is part of the dependency culture that has bedevilled the country. The message, as with public housing and the desperate attempt to hang on to doomed traditional industries, has always been: we will cocoon you and look after you. The spirit of enterprise and self-reliance on which Scotland's prosperity used to be built has been driven out.

Many teachers still decry any attempt to instill enterprise ideas, foolishly associating these with Thatcherism. Until comprehensive education becomes less defensive - the characteristic of Mr MacBride's letter - it will be open to legitimate criticism.

Tony Brown South Clerk Street, Edinburgh

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