19 JUNE 1947, Page 14


SIR,—Mr. W. W. Fletcher's letter in The Spectator of June 13th appears to me to score a bull's eye. The Education Act of 1944 sought to carry out all the possibilities of reform and advance together at once and to a high standard. The better approach, alike from the practical and the theoretical points of view, would have been to devote the first period of, say, seven years to the primary schools. Without a radical overhaul at that stage the secondary schools of all sorts will suffer from an intake of poorly-prepared children. Until the overhaul takes place, no one can tell in what ratios the transfer to secondary schools should take place. The current estimate of 15 per cent. of the secondary entry as fit for grammar-school education would be found, probably, much too low. The continuing anxiety of multitudes of parents to have their children admitted to grammar schools is not all parental partiality. They suspect that the conditions in the primary schools are against their children's chances. Many of these parents, too many of them, are almost certainly right.

The deficiencies of the primary schools weaken the work of the secondary schools, and this weakening in turn is detrimental to the universities. To the question: " What is wrong with education? " there is a broad and simple answer which is a very large part of the truth, viz.: " The previous stage of education." But the 1944 Act did not follow the regress back to the stage at which improvement can most effectively begin.—Yours faithfully, JoHN MURRAY. University College, Exeter.