Letter: Education must not be a rat race

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Our local Tory councillor who upholds the creation of more grammar schools does well to seek the best for academically gifted children but fails to say this needs holding in proportion to equal quality provision for all other young people.

I was favoured with good wartime schooling at a Southport Grammar School, and I recall the parallel “secondary and technical” and “modern” schools for those of other skills.

Alas their support never matched that of the schools favoured by the pushiest parents; and since we all seek the best for our families the question arises, “who will watch over the wellbeing of orphans and others who lack good home care?”

The answer must be those in national and local government, the churches and other concerned bodies.

The clash of responsibilities of MPs who are students’ parents is a separate albeit important question, and I think they should not be given jobs in education whether they are Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP or whatever.

Just as our NHS offers free medical service to all at the point of delivery, so a similar ethos is needed in education, with surtax at 50 per cent to cover. Also the 1960s report on harmonising the state and independent sectors needs re-opening, and unrealistic charity status removed from the latter.

Education must not become a mere competitive rat race with talk of “top schools” and “elite universities” according to some judge or other. I know from 33 years at the chalkface how much depends on wise staff, whatever the framework.

I favour the unions’ campaigns for real education to the exclusion of rote-learning, overworking and over testing of students such as trigger Tennyson’s warning:

“Knowledge grows but wisdom lingers, and we linger on the shore,

And the individual withers and world seems more and more.”

Frank McManus, Longfield Road, Todmorden