Three cheers for comprehensives

12th May 2006 at 01:00
It has long been said in Government circles that our school system caters well for two-thirds of pupils and struggles with the other third. That third is now being refined downwards to the bottom 20 per cent who leave with few qualifications, low levels of basic skills and little inclination to continue learning. In a related development, schools are being asked how comprehensive they are when they provide few vocational options for pupils in their normal curriculum.

This week, we carry two reports on page six that remind us how much comprehensive schools have done to improve the life chances of the disadvantaged. Catholic schools in particular have done exceptionally well for working-class pupils, as Professor Tom Devine emphasises. On top of that is the Edinburgh University evidence that Scotland's more inclusive system has delivered for the aspiring middle and lower attaining groups, much more so than the more diverse system south of the border. Critics would do well to consider such evidence before attempting to dismantle something that works and is improving, in favour of market-driven solutions.

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