Give parent choice a chance

13th August 2004 at 01:00
Philip Collins offered a more convincing argument than Professor John Howson in their excellent debate last week (TES, Summer Debate, July 30).

Of course we would all wish, with Professor John Howson, that "all children should be guaranteed a quality education". Some would agree with him that central planning, in particular of teacher numbers and types of secondary school, is the way to achieve that goal. But even those people, I think, would recognise that 15 years of ever more detailed planning has failed to do that job.

Philip Collins's pragmatic view, that choice should be given the chance to raise standards where planning has not, is hard to dispute.

I would disagree, however, with his call to rule out selection. Wouldn't parents have more choice if the schools on offer included a number specialising in different levels of academic ability?

Andrew Haldenby Director of research REFORM 45 Great Peter Street London SW1

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