Why education leads to exclusion

Nick Davies' essay ("There is nothing natural about poverty", 6 November) gave an interesting picture of what is now called "social exclusion" on some urban housing estates. It remains a mystery to those who work in education why the government retains policies and practices that reinforce this exclusion. In addition to the exclusion of pupils from their schools which Davies describes, these policies also include selection of pupils at age 11 by aptitude; "failing" and then closing schools (mostly on deprived housing estates); publishing league tables which continue to show that schools in deprived areas are "poor" schools; and subjecting pupils at ages five, seven, 11, 13 and 16 to national tests which reinforce many children's poor view of their ability to achieve.

Hugh Ritchie
Ware, Hertfordshire

This article first appeared in the 13 November 1998 issue of the New Statesman, Why gays become politicians