Success of the independents

19th September 1997 at 01:00
I applaud Martin Stephen's article "Independent excellence at a state school price" (TES, September 5), for its innovative proposals and its attempt to challenge fossilised government orthodoxy in relation to the independent sector.

The education establishment refuses to believe the independent sector could have any good practices to share with state schools to the great loss of both sectors. The independents' success is put down solely to more available money and, in some cases, academic selection. If resources really are the key to success it is difficult to see why education ministers don't stick to this "target" above all else.

The vast majority of independent primary schools are non-selective. They constitute an area of significant growth within the independent sector. The ethos and methodology found in such schools is exemplary in the context of current Government proposals. Yet it is as though the state sector has had to reinvent the wheel which has been turning in the independent sector for some years. What a waste.

The Government's Excellence in Schools White Paper refers to independent schools in its final three paragraphs and its thinking appears depressingly limited to using the odd classroom or swimming pool. Those in the independent sector have informed themselves about, listened to and learnt from, the state sector for years. Uninformed dismissal of independent schools' experience, which offers wide diversity, damages the whole education system of this country.

SARAH H EVANS

King Edward VI High School Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham

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