No assistance;Letter

1st May 1998 at 01:00
The strange assumption behind the now defunct assisted places scheme was that private schools were inevitably better for bright children than maintained schools.

Recent research by Whitty, Edwards and Wigfall (TES, April 17) has been misinterpreted by your writer and fortunately cannot raise that dead horse. The authors say clearly that differences in academic outcome were largely due to the pupils' "incoming attributes" - that is to their home background.

They point to the real and broader problem of working-class failure, which is likely to be helped by smaller classes and better quality teaching materials.

The Conservatives had pledged pound;180 million to the scheme for this year, but Labour is now diverting it to lower class sizes. Research evidence from many sources supports this move and also indicates other ways of spending that money to give a far higher proportion of pupils with potential the chance of aiming for excellence.

Joan Freeman, 21 Montagu Square, London W1

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