State quotas are not the answer

9th June 2000 at 01:00
WHAT is frightening about ministers' remarks on Laura Spence is that they know the truth behind A-level statistics is less than reassuring for the state sector.

Although only 7 per cent of secondary pupils attend independent schools, 21 per cent of pupils sitting A-levels come from this sector. Of those sitting A-levels, only 6 per cent of state students gain three As, whereas 18 per cent of independent students do so. This means that 44 per cent of those gaining three As come from the 7 per cent of independent pupils, and 56 per cent come from the 93 per cent of state pupils.

These alarming statistics take no account of the act that many academics have serious doubts about the validity of A-levels as a measure of intellectual attainment. To increase the difficulties facing higher education by introducing quotas would undermine intellectual life in this country.

Primary children are already learning more about English grammar, for instance, in the literacy hour than most A-level students achieve before becoming undergraduates. They will be dangerously frustrated if they arrive at university and find themselves surrounded by politically-correct illiterates.

Dr William Bedford

74 Welholme Avenue

Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire

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