Tutors have a role to play

11th September 1998 at 01:00
There is a great deal with which the Student Support Centre agrees in Robert Naylor's article "Tutors aren't the answer" (TESS, August 28). We, too, acknowledge the increasing and even excessive pressures placed upon schools by expanding the curriculum, setting targets for performance and driving teachers down an increasingly business-orientated path to force standards up.

There are, however, a number of significant issues where we do not accept the points made or must simply correct errors. The reason we approach local authorities in the first instance is as a matter of courtesy to inform them of our work and to offer our materials for evaluation. At no time do we seek endorsement of our programme or of our work. We do not ask schools to act as agents for us, nor to recommend our programme to parents.

Many headteachers have parents ask them about tutors or additional assistance. Some schools feel it appropriate to make parents aware of our existence by sending home to families a leaflet which explains our work. Any further contact is between parents and the Student Support Centre if parents choose to establish it.

Secondly, we believe that the inference of schools performing badly, or being badly resourced or having unrealistic expectations placed upon them, if considered correct by the education establishment, is something to be corrected by them. The link between that apparent situation and the demand and growth for "outside of school" activities is tenuous in the extreme.

To remove any element of choice of parents must presumably be wrong, always provided that Government attention continues to be focused on resourcing and supporting schools - here we very much agree with Robert Naylor. In terms of a two-tier system divided by ability to pay, that is also a reality.

We see the growth in our business not as an indication of failure but an illustration of the developing partnership between schools, parents and children where the parents become more involved. We feel that Robert Naylor's article was overly negative and defeatist. Accepting his premise that schools should be the focal point of education does not preclude some, albeit peripheral, involvement from private companies.

Tony Lappin Director of education The Student Support Centre Ellisland Road, Glasgow

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