18 JANUARY 1975, Page 4

Comprehensive defender

Sir: In your issue of January 4, you publish a letter from Mr Lockhart criticising comprehensive schools. They have, he says, "long had a ,bad name," their new teaching methods "add to the havoc," etc.

My eldest child attends our local comprehensive school. Before she went 1 had to listen to similar criticisms from supposedly well-meaning people and pretty depressing they were too. "I would rather die than send my child there"; "it's a dreadful school"; "no discipline"; "the worst of the lot." It was with considerable foreboding that I saw my child off on her first day. To my relief conditions at the school bear no relation whatever to the image some sections of the public seem determined to give it. My child is being well taught by a team of kind,. hard-working and enthusiastic teachers. The syllabus is sound and well-balanced. There is a wide range of interesting activities going on and the, classes are orderly. The classes, it is true, are of mixed ability, but every effort is made to see that this does not affect the standards of the brightest. In any case, public schools have mixedability classes and they don't come under attack for it.

People who critise comprehensive schools always make the assumption that the grammar schools were perfect. I can think of many things wrong with my. old high-reputation Direct Grant school. It was far too narrow and rigid; it utterly failed to train the hand as well' as the mind; its musical education was almost non-existent. But I don't attack it hysterically, because I recognise it was doing its best. The same is surely true of the comprehensives. They may not be perfect, but they are doing their best, and they already have some fine achievements to their credit.

Obviously there are many areas in which they could be improved, but one thing is certain: no improvements will ever, come about as a result of misinformed, often malicious, criticism from people who neither send their children to these schools, nor teach in them themselves.

Daphne F. Ghose 47 Ring Road, Nr. Lancing, Sussex.