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6th October 2000 at 01:00
BILL COOPER'S reactionary dismissal (TESS, September 22) of 95 per cent of Scottish schools, ie comprehensives, as inherently second-rate, cannot go unchallenged. His high opinion of German Gymnasien (senior secondaries) is not shared by the pupils thereof; many of our Cademuir pupils come from these schools, preferring, and choosing to invest in, the benefits of a Scottish curriculumeducation.

Their reasons are varied, but include observations such as

Gymnasien usually have class sizes of 30-40 pupils

Public exams are set by the teachers, unlike the independence of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (despite its recent problems); pupils are therefore too dependent on teacher goodwill

The pace is rigidly geared, often to the slowest, and pupils are unable to move onfrustratedbored - with obvious implications for discipline <> Teachers here are more ready to help and support pupils, especially those with dyslexiaother needs.

Certainly no one would deny that Scottish education could be improved - the German system of starting primary school at six, then secondary at 10, has much to commend it; many parents feel pressured into starting their children in school at four, and there is a perception, among pupils and parents, that the period P6-S2 is a time of academic stagnation.

However, a return to selective education does not seem to address either of these problems - which are organisationalpolitical, not educational - and would create the classic self-fulfilling prophecy of low expectationlow achievement for the 80 per cent of "rejects".

(Ms) H M Wilson

Teacher of classics and mathematics

Cademuir School

Moniaive, Dumfriesshire


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