Assisted places

ONE of the most successful of Margaret Thatcher’s social reforms was the 1980 Assisted Places Scheme, which tried to replicate the effect of direct-grant grammar schools.

It was an escape hatch from the educational quagmire of the local sink comprehensive for the bright child of an abandoned woman or an impoverished working-class couple.

The incoming Labour government abolished this hugely popular scheme in 1997 and the money “saved” disappeared without trace.

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A study has been made of two groups with similar ability and parental background half of whom used the scheme to go to private schools while the others went to state schools.

The results show the huge benefit of the scheme and the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to improve social mobility through education, rightly says it should be brought back.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews, Fife