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Aptitude counts

The editorial on the 38 new technology and language colleges (TES, May 24) represents a view of secondary education which is old-fashioned and outdated. Namely, that all children have the same aspirations and aptitudes and should therefore be educated in the same way as their neighbourhood comprehensive school, even if they live in an urban area which contains a large number of schools from which parents can choose.

The aim of the specialist schools' initiative is to promote choice and diversity in our secondary system through the creation of a different form of all-ability schools which focus on the key subjects of maths, science andtechnology or modern languages. It is vital to our economic well-being that these subjects are taught to a high standard. Many of our schools are also located in disadvantaged inner-city or rural areas, wherethe need to raise standards is the greatest.

The editorial was also silent on the popularity of this style of education. The original 15 CTCs are over-subscribed by a factor of three to one, and many of the new technology and language colleges are experiencing a similar increase in their number of applicants to places. That is the reason why the CTC Trust is co-operating with the National Foundation for Educational Research to develop sound aptitude tests in our subjects. If a specialist school is over-subscribed, we believe it is much fairer to admit pupils on the basis of aptitude (but not narrow academic ability), rather than on how close the pupil lives to the school.

CYRIL TAYLOR City Technology Colleges Trust 37 Queen's Gate London SW7

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