Equalise education by levelling up, not down

Was it an intended irony that the headline "Education key to curing ills of social inequality" should appear above a letter from Ed Jupp (2 January), who believes equality could be achieved by the closure of some of Scotland's best – ie, private – schools?

Like others who believe fee-paying schools should be abolished, Mr Jupp fails to face up to reality, namely that, as he says, "parents play the system in all manner of ways" – including, it seems, by spending their own money as they choose – for one very good reason: our state schools are not good enough, as is increasingly exposed by international comparisons.

Parents who "sacrifice everything to educate their children privately" are not the Tory front-bench millionaires referred to by Sam Ghibaldan (Opinion, 31 December), but simply wish to give their children a better education than they expect them to receive at a local authority school.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

If Mr Jupp is concerned about inequality, he should wonder why some local authorities – East Renfrewshire is a good example – can provide a quality education system to match fee-paying schools while others cannot. If they did, many fee-paying schools would wither and die.

If education is the key to abolishing social inequality, one way is to find the lowest common standard, as seems to be Mr Jupp's preferred solution. Fortunately, most Scots believe we should aim to make all schools as good as the best.

ALAN R IRONS

Woodrow Road

Glasgow

Despite recent protestations, most parents will always want to provide the best education they can for their children, from reading stories at bedtime, through organising trips to the museum and music lessons, to arranging private tuition, gaining a place in a better state school or providing independent education.

Critics of independent schools often seem to view education purely as a race for academic qualifications, leading to prestigious careers. However, the wider elements of character formation, moral values, manners, cultural appreciation, sport and wider intellectual engagement are also integral to high-quality education.

Well-educated people, in the broadest sense, are an asset to the whole of society (I think they are called "responsible citizens" and "effective contributors" in the Curriculum for Excellence). Any institution devoted to developing such citizens, without thought of profit, is therefore providing a valuable service to society.

Some state schools outperform others by a huge margin. To achieve educational equality, what must be done to end this postcode lottery? Improve standards in the worst schools? I'm all for it. Eliminate or restrict the leading schools? That would be madness.

Of all of the ways that the wealthy can spend their money, investing in the intellectual development and character formation of their children seems to me to be one of the most ethical.

RICHARD LUCAS

Cowan Road

Edinburgh