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Underhand dealings feed the debate

In "The exam system is in crisis, MPs are told" (9 December) you report Martin Collier, an A-level history examiner, bemoaning the decline of professional standards and the quality of A-level textbooks, and quote him saying to MPs: "Now, if you think that A-levels ... are about broadening the mind and reading around the subject ... those things are mitigated against by these branded books."

Might I suggest that, if these really are Mr Collier's words and if he is so concerned about declining standards, he should take a look rather closer to home?

You also report, in "Next week at school", that the Roman emperor Nero "was said to have poisoned his mother". As most current A-level Latin students will know, he actually had her beaten and stabbed to death following the failure of his plan to have her drowned in a collapsible boat. Tacitus explicitly says that he rejected poison as a method of killing her.

Neil Brinded, Head of classics, Colchester Royal Grammar School, Essex.

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