10 DECEMBER 1948, Page 15


Sta,—The Headmaster of Bishop Wordsworth's School has undoubtedly given the real reason for the minimum age limit in the new General Certificate.of Education. All for the sake of the twin principles of "parity of conditions " and " parity of esteem " it appears to have been imposed, not in the interest of the boys and girls for whom the examination is intended (those in secondary grammar schools), but for the consolation of the boys and girls for whom the examination is not intended (those in the new secondary modern schools). That the regulations should be framed to suit those who are not taking the examination sounds rather like Alice in Wonderland. Mr. Happold appears to think that administra- tive convenience is more important than the welfare of the abler boys and girls ; paragraph 16' (b) of Circular 168 states that "when there is a substantial increase in the number of pupils staying at school till 17 or later the Minister contemplates that the minimum age for entry to the examination should be raised " ; when this happens, will Mr. Happold remain equally satisfied?

Mr. Happold also ignores completely these facts: That the way out of the difficulty that he suggests has been rejected by Cambridge by unani- mous vote of the Regent House on November 13th ; that Oxford will, in all probability, also continue to demand Latin, mathematics and a modern language other than English ; and that there has been, as yet, no indication whatever that either London or the Northern Universities or the Scottish Universities will accept two subjects at the advanced standard together with two general papers. In my last letter I suggested a simple was' out of the impasse ; if the Minister will allow the abler boys and girls to take a maximum of two subjects at 15-16 (these " early passes " to be recorded on the certificate issued later), and if the univer- sities will recognise these " early passes," almost all our difficulties would The Leys School, Cambridge. •