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How exactly are our schools doing?

I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Joseph Farrell's conclusions on the general fall in educational standards (Letters, November 24).

For too long, this decline has continued and, as he writes, "emerges into public view only occasionally but is known and acknowledged" by school and university teaching staff.

My evidence is drawn from a comparison of post-Higher grade examination papers in mathematics. Being a hoarder by nature, my files still retain copies of exam papers from 1957 and 1958 in Dynamics, Elementary Analysis and Additional Geometry. Making due allowance for the fact that the content of the syllabi has changed over the years, any fairly objective professor of mathematics would recognise how standards plummeted over the past half-century.

Although I was never looked upon as a "high flier", my success in passing those three post-Higher subjects at school guaranteed I could confidently cope with the first two years of mathematics in an engineering honours degree course.

I support Prof Farrell's call to the Cabinet Secretary for Education for a comparative examination of educational standards.

Alastair Murdoch,

7A Crofthead Street,


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