More to fund than TV stars

7th January 2000 at 00:00
DENNIS Richards, (TES, December 10) has a point when he says that the work in good comprehensive schools is hardly ever the subject of television documentaries.

He can be forgiven for thinking that most of the Sutton Trust's money is spent on funding pupils to independent schools as our one project in this direction, providing open access at The Belvedere School in Liverpool in partnership with the Girls Day Schools Trust, has attracted considerable interest. But we focus the bulk of our resources in providing funding for pupils in comprehensives in our efforts to help overcome social inequality in education.

Our summer-schools are not based in independent schools (as his article might suggest) but at four leading universities. They are directed at sixth-formers in comprehensives or colleges and at students whose parents did not have the benefit of a university education. Our annual summer school for teachers at Oxford University is for state-sector teachers.

We are funding a three-year Saturday morning schoo at the London School of Economics for students from inner-city London schools and colleges.

We supported the Government's 34 summer pilot projects for able children in inner cities as part of the Excellence in Cities initiative, which rewards work done in good comprehensives. We are working closely with the Technology Colleges Trust to help comprehensive schools win specialist status and are about to announce sponsorship for a number of specialist schools.

Finally we, along with the Department for Education and Employment, fund partnerships between state and independent schools which are not Lady Bountiful exercises but based on the premise that independent schools have a lot to learn from state schools and vice versa.

There is no way the Sutton Trust would spend money on propping up failing independent schools or ignore the widespread good practice in state schools.

Lindsey Chamberlain

The Sutton Trust administrator

Heritage House

21 Inner Park Road

Wimbledon, London SW18

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