AS one who actually taught in a Comprehensive School for 27 years, may I take issue with Phil Green for berating the horrible comprehensive system in a recent letter to the Editor. I benefited from an eleven plus and a Major County Award which gave me a Grammar School Education. I would wish for that to be available to any deserving student now. Sadly, it is not.
But what to do with the other children?
After National Service (an education in itself) I got my first teaching post at the Elliott (Mixed) Comprehensive School in Putney in 1957.
It was a fantastic school, with an enormous range of facilities, Workshops, Laboratories, Music Rooms, Art Studios, a Theatre, Gymnasia, and excellent staff. Some 1'800 pupils were in 15 streams of ability, with 30 pupils in the upper groups, set in various subjects to ensure parity of ability in their working groups. The least able streams were in smaller classes to allow more individual teaching, and there was special remedial teaching. This worked wonderfully well and I still regard it as an ideal system, offering the equivalent of a grammar school for the high-flyers while giving all a chance to find their best level, and they all mixed together in Games and Drama as well as socially.
In my Third Year-Stream Tutor Group, I had a mathematical genius who studied Mathematics with a Sixth Form group, and went on to Oxford University at 15. A few years later we were made to abandon Streaming. Mixed Ability classes, followed by Equal Opportunities for boy/girl subject choices resulted in a dumbing down of the teaching and has been the cause of the lowering of the level of achievement now complained of.
The problem has been political meddling and so-called Politically Correct meddling over the years.
As an example, pupils who left in 1965 now tell me that their children do not get practical Science lessons now. Owing to Health and Safety Regulations it is all taught by demonstrations on a TV screen! Edmund Hodges, Fornalutx
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