From Mr John Mallen.

Sir, I hope that you will allow me to add to Andrew Clark’s excellent article on Big Noise and El Sistema (“The spread of music’s ‘kindly virus’”, Arts, February 28).

Along with the discipline and self-confidence instilled in the young people, there is also substantial evidence that academic standards are raised in the schools that partake in such schemes. The benefits reported in Raploch, Scotland, could just be the stimulus that transforms UK schools – after all, improved social and team-working skills and expanded social networks together with improved discipline and self-confidence can’t be bad, can they?

Surely the vast amount of public money spent on the fragmenting of the state education system over the past decade could have been better spent on projects such as this and, whilst not a panacea, it would not be difficult to improve on the so-called reforms carried out by this government and the last.

John Mallen, Bylaugh Park, Norfolk, UK

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