Going with the stream

17th July 1998 at 01:00
With reference to "Return of the remedial section" (TESS, June 19) I am writing firstly to express my admiration for James Cathcart, headteacher of Castlemilk High, and Ronnie O'Connor, the senior depute director of education who supports him. They not only recognise that children enter the first year of secondary school with different levels of attainment but are taking steps to ensure children are taught at the level they have reached and are required to make progress from there.

I am writing secondly to deplore the reaction of the Educational Institute of Scotland. In their opposition to Mr Cathcart's proposals they reveal that they have little interest in schools enabling pupils to learn. Their main concern is the promotion of social equality, a goal espoused with hideous consequences by Chairman Mao and Pol Pot.

The EIS claim to have at heart the interests of the weakest students. In fact the only pupils who can survive, let alone benefit from, a regime in which mixed-ability classes are taught a fragmented curriculum by 15-20 different teachers are those whose parentscarers provide stable homes and extra tuition.

The EIS make the mistake of supposing that for provision to be equal, it must be the same, as though all children were the same. Parents at least know their own children differ from each other in ability and aptitude. They will try to spend on each child the same amount of time or money but they will not do the same things with them or give them the same presents. Equality in education requires the suitable provision to all of time, concern and resources that meet individual needs, within a system that measures and recognises each child's effort and progress towards the best they can achieve.

All pupils of next session's intake into S1 at Castlemilk High will have a much better chance of making progress at their own level than their predecessors have had for the past 25 years and than the EIS would like now.

David Hill Relugas Road, Edinburgh

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