EDUCATION: State schools have come far

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I find it terribly sad that the new Tory Government wishes to restore grammar schools after a settled period of nearly 50 years.

The comprehensive idea was developed by Rab Butler, with Margaret Thatcher as one of his juniors, in the 60s and they set up six experimental schools.

I feel that the present politicians have no idea how far we have come in the state schools since then.

We started in the 60s to 70s to make sure the teaching profession was a graduate one. The schools before that were served by a quickly trained teaching service after the war as there was such a shortage for the job.

We also asked that all teachers were proficient in maths at the 16 level before embarking on teacher training.

Following the experimental start the whole country was in debate as to the form of our school system.

The Labour Party went for comprehensive, led by Anthony Wedgewood Benn whose children were attending one of the London test schools. Meanwhile, the Tories, with their experience of Eton, stuck with grammar.

Yes, Roy Todd is right, (Northumberland Gazette, September 15). We, the Conservative group elected in 1974 for the new council set-up, had to see the way forward.

I was highly involved at that time and could see that the parties were heading for an in/out seesaw. I, myself, had suffered from changes being made in the 16 system so advised that we should settle for a constant in Northumberland for the sake of our young.

We have some highly successful high schools in this county due to that firm line and have attracted some extra good headteachers.

You see this in Alnwick, Amble, Morpeth, Hexham and Ponteland, where we have some very strong parent associations. We have attracted the best of teachers from around the country.

Sadly, there are not enough good headteachers to fill all the posts in Britain and maybe it is time for central government to look to that problem. The private/public school sector also has this difficulty.

Not all our children are university material, and indeed, Labour introduced charges and these are now so high many don’t want it.

Not all parents value education and the lower end of academic pupils suffer from this. It is time our MPs learnt this.

We need to improve the skilled section of our schools, giving those who make things an equal chance to those of their academic fellow pupils and fulfil the things that industry needs us to accomplish.

Anne Wrangham,

Alnwick