Attlee fell short of abolishing private schools

From: Edward Grainger, Botany Way, Nunthorpe, North Yorkshire.

TOM Howley is right to assert (The Yorkshire Post, October 22) that Clement Attlee was by far the best post-war leader for all the reasons highlighted in his letter, well ahead of Sir Bernard Ingham’s nomination of Margaret Thatcher (no surprise there then).

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However, by his own admission, Attlee failed to appreciate that the decision to leave the private and public schools in place in the education system (they were to be abolished under the Education Act 1944) which he saw implemented in the first few months of his premiership, after the general election of 1945, meant that the intention to create a level playing field for all children and young adults, so far as learning was concerned, could not be achieved.

Ever since that decision was made by Attlee against strong advice, the state education system has played second fiddle to the privately funded system. All these years later, Yorkshire lags behind in terms of literacy levels (reading and writing) and once these basic academic levels fall compared to the private sector, youngsters find it difficult to catch up, a point made by the recent findings in the report of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.