YP Letters: Opportunity missed over schooling

Will grammar schools raise standards or not?
Will grammar schools raise standards or not?
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From: John Senior, Birchfield Grove, Skelmanthorpe.

THE recent article by Mark Kennedy, the principal of UTC Leeds, was intriguing, especially when read alongside the letters concerning grammar schools.

To my mind it emphasises the missed opportunity when appreciable parts of the comprehensive system moved to 11-16 schools and sixth-form colleges. How much better it would have been if we had moved to 10-14 or 11-14 middle schools followed by a tripartite system at 14+.

At 14+ I would suggest a ‘Commerce and Trades High School’, a ‘Technical High School’ and an ‘Academic High School’(better names I am sure could be found for them). Entrance would not be by exam (thus removing the stigma of failure) but by pupil/parent choice guided by school staff.

There would be a common core to the curriculum up to 16+ in all three types of school thus facilitating transfers up to the end of the 16+ year. Parents and pupils should be made aware that a wrong choice at 14+ would probably put them at a disadvantage compared to those who chose correctly.

At 16+ external exams would not be taken in those subjects to be studied post 16+, thus reducing the costs to schools and the pressure on exam boards with a consequent reduction in the number of requests for a re-mark.

From: John G Davies, Alma Terrace, East Morton, Keighley.

JACK Brown’s argument blaming Trotskyite teachers for the failure of Barnsley’s comprehensive schools is little short of pathetic. During my 30-odd years as a teacher in Bradford, I only came across one individual who might have belonged to that category.

The number of Trotskyite, Socialist Workers and other extreme “left” groups must number nationally in the low thousands. How many of them are qualified teachers?

Is he suggesting that there was a Trotskyite conspiracy to infiltrate Barnsley’s secondary schools?

Presumably, that is also the cause of the low achievement of schools in Bradford and Hull.

We are all doomed!

From: John Hall, Pennithorne Avenue, Baildon, Shipley.

LABOUR – and by extension 
the country – is doomed when Andy Burnham tells John Humphrys on the Today programme that the “the British people” voted for Labour to be 
an effective opposition.

I may be wrong, but I thought that Labour voters, (though in a minority), may have wanted a Labour government – just as the (larger) minority who voted Tory, voted for (and got) a Tory Government?

Gadgets failed to fix the NHS

From: Neil Richardson, Kirkheaton.

PROFESSOR Tony Young’s slant on information technology describes (The Yorkshire Post, September 21) a future where gadgets “can transform the workload of nurses, cutting bureaucracy and giving them more time with their patients”.

But the field of data processing, also known as systems and IT, is not young. Computers have (at best) supported staff since the 
1970s.

Your correspondent should have included phrases cast in the past tense, i.e. stress that systems have reduced clinicians’ workload.

Equally important, does the modern addiction to mobile phones and staff burdened with work which follows them home illustrate information technology has a complex and disruptive side – because the social context in which IT gets used is remarkably hard to unravel?

Many perils of mobile use

From: David Collins, Scissett.

WHEN the original mobile phone legislation was introduced, the Department for Transport statistics showed that there was no difference between hand-held and in-car kits as far as danger was concerned (The Yorkshire Post, September 22).

In both cases, the driver’s attention was elsewhere and not concentrating on the road ahead. Actually juggling with a handset had little impact. Very interestingly, the Government at the time chose to ignore the statistics.

I notice the current Department for Transport makes no mention of this that I can find. It is time to dig out those original statistics and ban all car drivers from using mobile phones.

From: Hilary Andrews, Nursery Lane, Leeds.

IS it only me who really worries about the development of young children when you see them in Leeds in forward-facing pushchairs seeing only legs and their mothers are constantly talking on their telephones? Surely they need the stimulus of seeing and talking to their carers?

Laughter over my cornflakes

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

ONCE again, in her putting-right of Liz Jones (The Yorkshire Post, September 22), Jayne Dowle had me choking with laughter on my cornflakes.

The supposed agonies and privations which Ms Jones endured while in these parts, only served to reinforce our image – perhaps unfairly – of the stereotypical ‘southerner’. Life without Waitrose – unbearable, unthinkable.

But, though remaining an ardent JD fan, I assure her that, while muddy trouser bottoms are in short supply, there really is much more weight to Harrogate than Waitrose and the “gushing small talk and general conversational flim-flam” to which she refers.