a "wry smile" at the news that Stonyhurst College is withholding its public examination results this summer. As his letter unfolds it is by no means clear what he is smiling about. Strictly speaking, Stonyhurst College did not withhold its results; the headmaster decided that he would not submit them to facilitate the compilation of the media league tables. Parents were told of the results and anybody interested is welcome to read them on the College's web site.
The headmaster of Stonyhurst College is in the classic "no win" situation: if Stonyhurst had withheld its results at a time when they had deteriorated, it could be accused of having something to hide; now when its results are the best ever, the headmaster stands accused by Mr Brett of some sort of superiority, of making a "lofty announcement".
As a former member of staff at Stonyhurst I know that the reality is entirely different. The decision not to submit results was made last year as well; it was based on sound educational arguments, and explained to all parents and staff. Mr Brett implies further criticism of Mr Aylward when he applauds him for "focusing on some outstanding examples", with the suggestion that the College is only interested in its high achievers. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the failure of league tables to give recognition to the exemplary work of staff with the less able pupils, whose achievements are no less laudable, that prompted, inter alia, the stance that Mr Aylward took. Stonyhurst is at one with Mr Brett in recognising the achievements of all its pupils, many of whom have surmounted considerable difficulties in the course of their studies.
Mr Brett loses my sympathy (and perhaps his way) when he devotes the rest of his letter, ostensibly in support of league tables, to little more than point scoring against the independent sector, writing as if the private and state sectors were at odds. The reality today is that state and private sectors are more and more actively cooperating in areas where they can work together for the benefit of staff and pupils in both types of school. At Stonyhurst, shared initiatives at both primary and secondary level have shown that there is much in common, and much we can learn from each other, thanks to our shared commitment to the Faith and pursuit of justice and peace in the world. It would be sad if Mr Brett's strictures were to revive old, and hopefully discredited, attitudes in Catholic education.
Only if we sincerely seek out and build on common ground shall Catholic education prosper to the benefit of all pupils. In a spirit of mutual understanding, Catholic schools, whether private or state, have a great deal to offer the Catholic community "to the greater glory of God".
Yours faithfully, PETER ANWYL President, The Association for Marketing and Development in Independent Schools Clitheroe, Lanes