P.O. Box 921 Maidstone Kent ME14 5WZ
Telephone: 01622 734098 - Web site: www.support-kent-schools.org.uk

Maidstone Adscene
3 Broadway Centre
ME16 8PS

25 March 2003

Dear Sir,

I am not surprised that the writer of the letter in your recent edition about secondary education in Kent preferred to remain anonymous, as the piece is based on many sources of evidence which do not stand up to examination. The fact remains that there is a very strong body of opinion throughout Kent in favour of retaining the current diverse mix of secondary schools. Support Kent Schools, with its thousands of members, is happy to be at the vanguard of that movement.

Your correspondent continues to condemn grammar schools and suggests that transfer to a comprehensive structure would bring a system with high levels of expectation for every pupil. Not even the Government believes that of the comprehensive system! It is, of course, the education system currently offered to 90% of the pupil population in the country and, bearing in mind that the vast majority of children are educated within comprehensives, the following comments from the Government’s recently published “14-19 Opportunity and Excellence” document are instructive:-

“Too many young people are not achieving as well as they should.”
“Despite steady progress over recent years only 51% of pupils achieve five good GCSEs and just over 5% achieve no GCSEs at all.”
“In a league table of participation rates for 17 year olds, we are equal 25th our of 29 OECD countries, just ahead of Greece, Mexico and Turkey.”
“One in four 16-18 year olds had dropped out of education and training at the end of 2000, significantly above the OECD and European Union averages.”
“Behind these statistics lie some harsh realities. Despite top quality provision in many schools too many people have been turned off by their experience of secondary education.”

Do we really want a system imposed in Kent that has not proved universally successful elsewhere? I put it to you that the vast majority of people in Kent would say “No”. Like Support Kent Schools, they would like to see education funding spent on improving the poorly performing schools, rather than on an unnecessary reorganisation. Such improvement, combined with increasing co-operation and collaboration, both formal and informal, between selective and non-selective schools will take education standards forward in the County.

Yours sincerely,

R. T. Avery
for Eric Hammond, Chairman, Support Kent Schools

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