Further education should be for the many, not the few | Letters

Thank you for paying attention to the neglect of the “second half” of adolescents aged 16 to 18 who do not attend A-level courses in the sixth grade of school (Editorial, February 20). I am anxiously watching the next examples of this in my local area. Previously, our youth was served in a higher college that offered both A-level courses and vocational courses. Then the local government spent many millions of its reserves on the establishment of sixth grades in all local secondary schools. Everyone decided to be elective.

When in 2018 the government carefully considered the impact of the changes, it reported only on how things are going in the sixth grade. Nothing was said about the college. This, of course, was not under the control of the council, but the schools, all the academies at that time were also not.

In 2020, officers prepared a report for the committee on “assurance and results after 16 years”, but the only results mentioned were A-level. In 2021, financial problems at the college forced him to propose a merger with two others at a distance. Despite the potential significance of this for the “second half” of local 16-18-year-olds, officers responded to the necessary consultations without disturbing the relevant committee.

The creation of the sixth forms could and was not a good use of the council’s resources, but the consequences in terms of political attention to the “second half” were profound.
Jeffrey Stanton
London

Your editorial says that “the principle of mixed ability has never extended to higher education, which continues to be highly stratified.” The answer to any strategy to reduce inequality is not based solely on removing 16 or more students based on academic achievement. You rightly point to the extremely important role that local higher education institutions and higher education institutions can play in improving access to both higher education and vocational education and training.

Strong arguments to increase funding and support for colleges. I am still amazed that in this discussion almost no attention has been paid to a truly comprehensive model of higher education. They ensured the natural development of the model of primary-secondary and higher general education.
Graham Phillips
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

The government’s notion of elite sixth grades is indeed a gimmick, but your editorial is mistaken in assuming that in England there is a direct division between the hierarchical system of higher education and the egalitarian system of schooling. Leaving aside the fact that most of the rich and powerful children do not study in public schools, the truth is that the state education system is far from egalitarian. Not only does it continue to support a formal system of selective high school, the detrimental effects of which reach more than might be expected, but the doctrine of “parental choice” ensures that all schools exist in a market hierarchy in which the least “desired” children are concentrated in the least “desirable” »Schools and vice versa.

The Augar review does not consider a deeper need for all forms of education after the age of 16 to have equal status. Our inability to get rid of the obsession with hierarchy means we are stuck in an educational model developed for the 1930s that does not portend our future.
Michael Pike
Litchfield, Staffordshire

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