Star, Monday 25th January 1965

SURPRISE ITEM FOR SCHOOL PLAN OPPONENTS

OBJECTIONS may be made to Sheffield Education Committee's comprehensive. plans for the City Grammar School, which involve increasing the school's population from 600 pupils to 2,290.

A public notice out today revealed than any 10 local government electors can object to proposed changes to schools within their area. The objections must be submitted to the Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science, within two months of the publication of the notice.

Said Mr. Albert Main, Press Officer of the city's militantly anti-comprehensive Parents Association for Secondary Education: "I certainly didn't know about this before. This really is most interesting. We shall discuss it at our next committee meeting and at our general meeting on February 24.”

‘No idea'

Mr. Alec Boothroyd, secretary of the Sheffield Association for  the Advancement of State Education, which is dedicated to bettering relations between parents and school which distributes educational information was also surprised by the notice.

".I'd no idea of this legal provision," he said. Knowing just what people's rights are is a very difficult thing."

"This sort of information is exactly what we have been trying to give, so that everyone knows just what everyone else is doing. I've an idea that teachers don't know about this one, let alone parents."

Legal requirement

The acting-head of King Edward's, Mr. Arthur Jackson, did know. "But,” he added "you can only object after a statutory notice has been served  regarding changes to the school. It can't be done, in anticipation.”

Mr. T. H. Tunn, Sheffield's Director of Education, told The Star: "this information has been given in all cases of   schools we have built or substantially enlarged since the war.

"It's laid down by the 1944 Education Act. All you have to do in the notice is to say where the school is situated and what area it will serve."

READERS' LETTERS

TEACHER’S VIEW ON SCHOOLS

WHILE being fully in sympathy with the wish of all concerned with King Ted's to preserve it in its present form (The Star, Jan. 19), several disquieting thoughts were raised in my mind by that article.

How much truth is there in the criticism which I have heard (from parents of boys at the school) that only real interest is taken in the top stream of boys?

I have, on good authority, the fact that a whole form failed "0" Level in one particular subject, that another boy emerged with only one subject at "O" level. As a teacher I find this disturbing and almost incomprehensible in a school which takes in only the very best boys to start with.

Much has been written and said about the possible disappearance of the grammar school in the new re-arrangements but has no one any concern for the good secondary modern school, which could also suffer ?

Until recently I had the opportunity of teaching in a good secondary modern in this city, which is functioning well, giving the more academically biased  pupil the chance to go forward to the sixth form of local grammar schools, catering for those of more practical bent, with a well balanced and varied curriculum. All this under our enlightened "head" and a devoted and very competent staff. To disturb that school would be tantamount to a tragedy.

Since some form of compromise is often the best answer to any problem involving the wider variety found in human beings, it seems that the Sheffield authorities would do well to have some second thoughts.

As far as I know, teachers as a whole have never been consulted about the problem and one would assume that they have some thoughts upon it ! What is even more frightening is the fact that legislation is often passed by councillors who have little contact with educational institutions and even less balanced information about them.

I was told recently by one of these illustrious worthies that all teachers were babies and then asked what use teachers were to the Education Committee!! That from a Conservative Councillor—so it would seem that, after all, the Labour party has not the monopoly of ignorance and illiterate opinion.

Magistra, Sheffield 11

Faults

So far all the letters from parents of students at King Edward VII School, or from students themselves, seem to support the retention of the present educational system. This creates a false impression, because many of those immediately concerned are in favour of the comprehensive system.

The present method of deciding the form of a child’s secondary education, by means of the eleven plus examination, has two indefensible faults. Firstly the examination tends to measure the quality of a child's primary education, and his social background rather than his intelligence: King Edward's now receives a few pupils who do not make the grade as a result of cramming at private schools.

Secondly the decision to send a child to a grammar or secondary modern school is an irreversible one.

If  a child's intelligence improves it is extremely difficult for him to move to a higher level of education than that to which he was apparently suited at the age of 11. Supporters of the grammar schools seem to care little for the abandonment of  the greater number of pupils who are sent to secondary modern schools.

Because of these faults the grammar school system must be replaced by a comprehensive one, in which everyone has a fair and equal chance, and King Edward's should be fully absorbed into this system because the changeover must be complete if it is to be successful.

The end of King Edward VII School, in its present form, will mean the end of a long tradition, nothing else, and tradition must take second place to progress and improvement.

Thirteen names (From second-year Sixth Form, K.E.S.)

Challenge

I WAS appalled at the attitude of a master of King Edward VII School in the article in The Star. Surely the thought of teaching at a comprehensive school must be a challenge to any teacher.

If he has taught for 18 years and only to the cream of intelligence, then he should get out of his rut. He is really worrying about himself, not the future generation. Why shouldn't we get the same "service" in a comprehensive school?

He is paid to teach and should learn to be a humble—it is no disgrace.

He is indeed very wrong when he says that most those who vote Socialist have not had a grammar school education, he must have some secret information on how everyone votes, their educational achievements, etc. Just how bigoted can a person get?

As for comprehensive education in Anglesey. Everyone is satisfied with it there and I do not have any figures about it, but it is working without all these non-existent problems that teachers with cushy jobs dream up in Sheffield.

K. G. Rochell (Mrs.). Caxton Rd, Sheffield, 10.

Star 11/2/1965

IN DEFENCE OF FREE SPEECH

'Sacked' city prefects applauded

AS Old Boys of King Edward VII School, now at Durham University, we write to voice our disgust at the latest events there.

The enforced resignation of prefects we believe to be unprecedented at the school.

We could perhaps support the action if it had been taken because of some moral or criminal offence on the part of the two prefects. This would certainly reflect on the "good name of the school," and this is what the prefect's oath on taking office is about.

But what offence have they committed? They have spoken their mind on an issue which requires the exercise of all opinions, freely expressed, if any intelligent dialogue is to be achieved. We congratulate them on this.

Which action reflects worse on the "good name of the school” — theirs or the authorities?

Some of the signatories of this letter are in favour of a completely comprehensive structure of education  in Sheffield; some are against any change in the present structure. The issue here is not whether King Edward's should go comprehensive or not.

However, it should be said here that statements made in various quarters that the school and the Old Boys are 100 per cent. anti-comprehensive no longer hold good. A considerable number of Old Edwardians, here at Durham for example and in Oxford too, are in favour of a completely comprehensive structure for Sheffield.

So let's clear away the idea that there is a united front of grammar school adherents fighting the Council and comprehensives. This is just not true.

The issue over the prefects is simple. Are they, as intelligent people, to be allowed free speech? Their opinions are valuable —  after all, they are at the school we are all talking about. Just compare the action of the authorities at King Edward's with those at Kidbrooke Comprehensive (London) recently, where Joyce Lang, music teacher, was allowed to express her doubts on certain aspects of comprehensive teaching without any reprisal.

Which is the healthier attitude? Which is more likely to encourage intelligent discussion of the future of education in this country'.

I. R. Taylor. J. R. Bagshaw. C. J. D. Morley, J. Goodwin, D. Ellum, M. J. Harrison, C. J. Marsh, P. A. Greaves.

Strange

WE object to the recent action taken against the prefects at King Edward's and we are pleased to observe that second thoughts have been given to the matter.

However, while we appreciate the arguments on behalf of comprehensive education, we cannot believe that it can be put into practice with the success already achieved by existing systems. Thus we think it strange that two beneficiaries of a proven scheme can condone an ideal already found unsuitable by other countries.

C. J. Page, C. Drake, C. M. G. Cunningham. R. Farrimond
High Storrs Grammar School

Rational

IN their protest against our letter, P. Howarth and A. Ellum miss one of the most important points we were trying to make. That we have all received an excellent education is without question, but it is equally certain that secondary modern schools provide a totally unsatisfactory form of education. Apparently the majority don't matter.

They go on to say that pupils who do well at secondary moderns can transfer to a grammar school and that boys who cannot stand the pace at King Edward's can transfer to a technical school. Though we have been at King Edward's for over six years no boy, to our knowledge, has left to go to a technical school and no boy from a secondary modern has ever been transferred to King Edward's.

When we wrote our original letter it was neither our wish nor our intention to embarrass the authorities at King Edward's and we all hope that we can now return to a more rational and unemotional discussion of the problems of education.

P. Cooper, R. Barker, I. Hogg, A. M. Dungworth, R. W. Flint, P. Bradley, I. S. White, A. Pressby, A. E. Vaughan.

•           The correspondence on the prefects is now closed. Letters on education are still welcome—Editor.