Thinker's Corner

Sustaining Europe (Green Alliance in association with Demos, 40 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0RE, 020-7233 7433, £10). Current EMU debate may be tired, but Ian Christie makes a compelling case for an "optimistic yet achievable vision" of a revitalised EU for the 21st century. The EU is caught in a limbo of under-confidence and over-achievement, but Christie looks forward to the birth of a new "quality of life politics". In other words, the union must overcome the threats exerted by consumption, production and urbanisation on the environment and economic and social well-being. In order to achieve this, investment should be redirected towards modernising infrastructure, encouraging green technologies as valuable creators of jobs, promoting energy-saving systems and improving communication links between the policy-makers and the public.

The Grammar School Question (Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, 020-7612 6000, £6.95). David Crook, Sally Power and Geoff Whitty, of the Institute of Education, conclude that able children perform only slightly better in grammar schools than their peers in comprehensives. The authors expose the inconsistencies of the current selection process. They point out that there are too many tests: one test for LEA grammars, different tests for grant maintained grammars, and places filled on appeal to panels of head teachers - for which there is no national body to moderate decisions. Tony Blair has decided to shift the future of grammars on to the shoulders of the ballot box. The authors, however, point to the difficulties of such a vote: only a broader cultural shift will persuade anxious parents, pupils and teachers that a comprehensive education can be as good as a selective one. Indeed selection itself may not be the root cause of the superior achievements of grammar schools. Rather, it is their more favourable resources and better teacher retention rates.

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