White paper will hurt the poorest

On reading your article on Anthony Seldon ("Modest man of many talents", TES, January 20) my initial impression was one of envy towards such a multi-talented individual with an apparent commitment to academic rigour.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover a few pages on, his sycophantic defence of the Prime Minister's proposals for schools, which mixed unsupported generalisations with a sense of smug self-congratulation, and highly questionable claims on behalf of the independent sector, alongside derogatory comments towards counterparts in the state sector with the temerity to hold differing views.

As a secondary head working with school leaders around the country, I have been taken aback at the sheer despair over the current white paper. To say this suggests a lack of desire for professional autonomy is a blatant misrepresentation: we welcome the freedom we enjoy as a result of local management of schools and more direct funding.

What Dr Seldon fails to realise is that we remain committed to a notion of state education which serves all young people: the white paper plans will further disadvantage those in greatest need.

At the same time we recognise that the recent rapid improvements in state education (far outstripping those in the independent sector), are in significant part a result of collaboration and excellent work by many LEAs.

You are right, Dr Seldon, that this will be the battleground of education for the medum term - but don't underestimate the extent or determination of your opposition.

Tom Megahy 3 Grange Close Bessacarr, Doncaster

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