In the Gazette of 26 July, Lucinda Moule called for more selection in state education to improve social mobility. She is wrong.
International evidence shows that selection depresses social mobility, while increasing segregation and the gap in achievement between rich and poor. Selection never was a route from poverty for a large proportion of the working class. Now, ‘passing’ the 11-plus is largely related to the amount of coaching which parents can afford and selective schools have about 2% of children on free school meals compared to over 15% in all schools.
I wonder on what evidence she bases her comments about comprehensive schools - for example, her outrageous assertion that in these schools ‘the kind of original and inquisitive thinking that is required in the legal profession is not encouraged or developed’. Surely a comprehensive education gives an enormous advantage to its alumni, enabling them to relate to the whole population – all potential clients.
Alan Milburn’s report on fair access to the professions reports progress in the legal world. However among its recommendations was: ‘We have heard from universities that they cannot persuade law firms to visit or to undertake outreach. There are 115 universities in this country and law firms should recruit from as wide an academic pool as possible.’ Recruiting agencies please note.
Instead of harking back to failed systems of the past, we need to be clear on the evidence of what comprehensive education can and has achieved. You can find it on our website. Margaret Tulloch, secretary, Comprehensive Future, London SW20