Selective on selection

21st March 2003 at 00:00
THE short article "Selection is bad for Britain" by Michael Ion (TES, March 7), was, I am sure, a useful lever in his political career in the Labour party, but it really added very little to the debate about standards in our schools. I do, however, applaud his desire to focus any debate on selection upon the issue of standards. But the "evidence" he uses to support his argument that we should close down our grammar schools is rather lacking in credibility.

He quotes Department for Education and Skills statistics about the top 25 per cent in comprehensive schools doing better than grammar schools which have already been shown to be deeply flawed.

It is perhaps more useful to look at the performance at five-plus GCSE A* to B figures. The latest were based on performance in 2000 where the figures were as follows: grammar schools 82.6 per cent; secondary moderns 10.6 per cent; comprehensives 22.7 per cent. An England total of 27.1 per cent His attack on Kent secondary schools is not really borne out by the figures. The county's performance at GCSE is above the national average, the proportion of high-achieving schools is greater than the national figure, and no Kent secondary schools have serious weaknesses.

We do, of course, have excellent schools in all areas. There are excellent comprehensive and grammar schools (I have been a headteacher in each type for more than 22 years in total).

There is surely a real need for people such as Mr Ion to focus on the need to meet targets, raise standards and help maintain our competitive edge.

The debate about ending selection and closing many of our excellent schools seems a foolish diversion from the real needs of our children.

Nigel Briers

2 Yew Tree Close

Bulkeley, Cheshire

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