Betraying the future of pupils

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:19 10 June 2010

I was drawn to work for Devon County Council in 1969 by its enlightened educational policies, which have been well-sustained until now - but seem to be under severe threat. Crucial to my coming to Exmouth was the fact that Exmouth s three secondary school

I was drawn to work for Devon County Council in 1969 by its enlightened educational policies, which have been well-sustained until now - but seem to be under severe threat.

Crucial to my coming to Exmouth was the fact that Exmouth's three secondary schools were being brought together as 'Exmouth School', ie a community comprehensive.

I saw the school from inside as a staff member who had experience of most other systems, and as a parent of children in the school. The realisation of the comprehensive potential was dramatic. (That realisation is now reinforced through our close contact with the school where our three local grandchildren are pupils.)

In the early days, many in Exmouth predicted a 'dumbing down', a fall in academic standards - whatever the social advantages.

I watched the social advantages blossom, while my colleagues graphed the dramatic improvements in range and quality of exam results over the 1970s decade.

The year 1968 opened the doors for those who had practical, academic and social potential to explore. There are not two species of 16 year olds: academic and practical. Rather, the further towards adulthood we can extend the possibilities of 'some-of-this with some-of-that' the better. 'Cross-fertilisation' promotes personal development.

It seems to me that the increasing fields of educational opportunity, lifelong learning and long-term demographic projections will exacerbate the present overcrowding at the Telfer Centre along with the overall school-site capacity.

The alternative to the Rolle site bargain, which DCC presently seems to be groping for, is piecemeal dispersal to under-used, un-co-ordinate-able corners of East Devon school sites. Surely this is the antithesis of the next stage of the comprehensive principle, in which Exmouth and Devon could take pride. To follow that path would be to betray present and future pupils - as well as the integrity of Exmouth as a community.

If John Hart and Christine Channon have thought through 'Plan B', their reluctance to have it properly scrutinised is, in my opinion, indefensible. They have apparently made - no education case; no financial case for dispersing provision; no social case that would promote attendance and the individual's sense of personal worth and potential.

Nic Pawson,

1 Greenacre, 5 Isca Road, Exmouth.

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