Warnock's failing

October 4, 1996

Baroness Warnock (THES, September 20) refers to the "dismal record" of comprehensive schools. There is not a comprehensive in the country that does not send pupils to university. Was there a secondary modern school that did?

Given that "selection" means being handed all those 11-year-olds who one knows will achieve high GCSE and A-level passes anyway, how does their success indicate that selective school teachers have worked harder with them or had (relatively) higher expectations than their comprehensive colleagues?

Finally, at the opposite end of the intellectual spectrum in schools, are there only children "deeply deprived at home" and "totally neglected intellectually", or might there not exist - beyond Baroness Warnock's own social experience - millions of people with a deeply moral intelligence who simply have other goals than those of intellectual achievement?

This is not an anti-elitist question; we can still have ambitions for such people to prefer Thomas Tallis to the Carpenters. But the fundamentally decent intentions behind Baroness Warnock's dislike of educational and class inequity are thwarted by her lack of knowledge about how the other half lives and what values it might attach to schooling.

Chris Goodey 1 Whitfield Road, London E6

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