12 APRIL 1975, Page 5

Educational levellers

Sir: Anger at your article on education ('The advance of the levellers', March 29) turned to despair when I discovered it was signed by an ex-headmaster.

"Some direct grant schools", says Dr Boyson approvingly, "send 70 per cent of their pupils up to university ... It is their very success which raises the envious howls of the egalitarian left."

Has he considered the implications of that first sentence? Does he understand what it means for the children at the other schools in the area, in terms of sheer statistics, odds against them?

The "envious howls of the egalitarian left" should not, I think, be confused with the simple statement, subscribed to throughout the democratic world, and quite a lot of the rest, that children should have an equal right to education.

If parents have the right to buy better-class education for their children, should they also be able to buy better-class medical treatment? Jump the queue for a tonsillectomy? Buy a kidney for grafting? Bribe the crew of a lifeboat on a sinking ship? Where is the line to be drawn?

A little later Dr Boyson says: "There is no doubt that every direct grant school which becomes independent will have no difficulty in filling its places whatever the height of the fees charged." Has he thought this one through? What can it possibly mean but more and more costly education for the few, and less and worse education for the rest?

Dr Boyson seems to equate education with the building of a soccer team, the purchase of a Rolls-Royce, or a trip to Ascot. Ah, no. If parents wish to purchase education for their children in more comfortable classrooms (or less comfortable ones in more lovely surroundings), why not? If they want their youngsters to speak in the admirably clear (if unfashionable) accents of a public school, or play rugger instead of soccer, there is no reason why they should not pay for the privilege. What no parent is entitled to do is to buy a bigger share of a better teacher for his child, in a state-aided school.

If his boy or girl needs special educational help or attention, that should be provided free. If his children are lazy, or rebellious, any sensible parent should be able to devise a remedy himself, in his spare time.

The comparison is not between owning a Rolls or a Mini. It is between half a dozen boys travelling to school in a bus subsidised by the state and with room for forty, while the rest of the boys walk the same road in the rain. Alec Stanley 35 Wilton Grove, London SW19