New Labour is the weakest link

6th June 2003 at 01:00
WHEN will this Government wake up to the fact that the situation that has been created in which so-called "weakest schools slip back" (TES, May 23) is mainly of its own making?

Once the last Conservative government decided that "market forces" would be the main tool for driving up standards, any intelligent being would have seen that there would always be a pocket of schools that would be left with the impossible task of competing with the "middle-class ghetto" schools.

New Labour came to power, frightened of spelling out that "parental preference" would be detrimental to the overall good of the education of children. Instead it has spent millions of pounds of the public's money trying to tackle these schools, when in fact, for a fraction of the cost it could have improved the overall performance of these "weaker schools".

All it had to do was give local education authorities the power to ensure that there was a fair social mix in each school and thus avoid a group of schools in every LEA with the majority of the disadvantaged pupils. They would then be able to ensure that in every school there would be hope rather than have so-called "sink schools".

Clearly this Government would rather spend money on fancy schemes with no guarantee of a positive return, than take simple but bold steps.

PK Baker

326 The Cullerns Highworth Swindon

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