Inclusive thinking

18th January 2008 at 00:00
We were interested to see Anthony Seldon's attack this week on "educational apartheid". Most in the independent day sector would sympathise with some of his views, particularly that "the ending of the direct grant system was one of many fatal errors".

Many independent schools today are urban day schools, with strong roots in their communities and still doing all they can to play a full part in those communities, not just through communication but also active involvement in partnership projects to spread the benefits they offer. Some are seeking to raise funds for bursaries, others may find a way forward through the academies programme (though that is not necessarily appropriate for all schools).

Too often, it has been the educational and political establishments which have cut off these routes to social mobility and educational attainment.

If we are going to have a truly creative approach to break up the "apartheid", surely it should go both ways. Let independent schools serve their communities as best they can with their own resources, but why not really open them up and allow them to expand through state involvement?

For example, why not offer a stream at the start of GCSE for non-fee paying pupils supported by the state at the same rate it costs to educate a child in a state school in that area? That would be real mutual co-operation and the end of "apartheid".

Sarah Evans, Head, King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham

Mike Gibbons Head, Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Wakefield

Stephen Smith Head, Bedford Modern School.

On behalf of the Forum of Independent Day Schools.

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