School selection lottery is mad

PUBLISHED: 10:46 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

Hertfordshire County Council has come up with a wizard wheeze in placing children into secondary schools in the county. Draw names out of a hat. Never mind the personal preferences of the child or its parents. Never mind the abilities or aptitude of the c

Hertfordshire County Council has come up with a wizard wheeze in placing children into secondary schools in the county. Draw names out of a hat. Never mind the personal preferences of the child or its parents. Never mind the abilities or aptitude of the child being best served.

If all schools in an area were equally good (or bad) there might be some logic in the method. But alas, they are not and there is not.

My experience of education in Hertfordshire over 50 years ago was completely different. I passed the 11+ examination which showed that my aptitude for learning was (allegedly) more academically based than practical. I went from Preston Primary to Hitchin Boys' Grammar School (three of us from the school were the first to do so, in 1952).

Two years later, I was one of four pupils from HBGS to be awarded a bursary from Herts County Council to a Public School. At that time Herts awarded six places annually, to boys only at Grammar Schools in the county. Again, selection was by written examination and interview to determine suitability.

The main problem of the 11+ was that the public at large considered those children who were not selected for Grammar Schools to be failures. More should have been done to counter that misconception, to emphasise the modern aspects of Secondary Modern (my father taught in one for many years) and to keep a degree of selection which has been of so much benefit to Britain over the years since WW2.

Today's social engineering by contrast is a random selection which would appear to take no account of the child or even where he or she lives. Otherwise why tear down a perfectly good school (Norton Road) in Letchworth and bus children to Knights Templar? Which will doubtless itself become over-subscribed necessitating children from Baldock being bussed randomly to Stevenage or Hitchin.

However, this Government relies on lotteries to produce money (National Lottery, super-casinos etc), gambles on the lives and security of our nation by engaging in illegal wars thus provoking a huge and potentially dangerous religious backlash on Britain and allows a hygiene lottery in hospitals where ten times more people are killed by MRSA or C difficile than by drunken drivers on our roads. So it is no surprise that we see this mad lottery of school selection.

And meanwhile up go the council taxes to pay for this insanity.

ROBERT SUNDERLAND, Oak House, Little Wymondley


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