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There is no secret to paying for exam success

It does not seem to have crossed Stephen Byers's mind that co-operation between the state and independent sectors - if it is practicable at all - might be other than one-way.

State schools already give considerable help to the private schools by accepting the children they reject as a consequence of unmanageable behaviour, costly learning problems or the parents having fallen on hard times. Then there are the private secondary schools which, despite their careful selection processes, cannot match the comprehensives in getting increasing numbers of children with only middling ability to achieve the five A-C grade GCSE benchmark.

This crazy scheme is being sold as a means of tapping into the independent schools' assumed monopoly of the secret formula for attaining high league table positions. It's no secret, Mr Byers; it is done by (a) selection, and (b) money.

COLIN YARDLEY

Glebe Cottage Church Lane Chislehurst Kent

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