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`Beacons of excellence' should light the path to success

The report "CTCs fall short of excellence" (TES, November 25) was a crude analysis of examination performance in city technology colleges. Rather than making generalised comments your reporter could have prepared a more informative article relating to questions such as:

Why was the number of Bradford CTC pupils achieving five A to C grades at GCSE 41 per cent higher than the average for Bradford education authority? Likewise concerning Haberdashers' 28 per cent higher and Corby 19 per cent higher? These three "beacons of excellence" have provided overwhelming evidence that considerable gains can be made in exam performance at a very early stage of their development.

Having worked in inner-city schools for 20 years I know I speak for thousands of teachers when I earnestly ask for a clear exposition of evidence that will press the case for a replication of the successful strategies adopted in these CTCs. The responsibility of CTCs is not merely to become excellent because their level of funding is higher than that of most schools.

If what we are doing workswe need to find ways of promoting this so that other inner-city urban schools can also benefit.

The fact that some CTCs have had an inconsistent start regarding examination results is, of course, useful to know. However, it would be useful if The TES could research these issues before drawing generalised conclusions.

* Did all CTCs start with a similar intake?

* Which were the newly-built schools? Which were not?

* Which were the traditional comprehensive one day and a CTC the next with the same children?

* Did they continue with the same staff?

* What of the managementstrategies and how do they differ?

* Can a value-added element be quantified?

Most importantly, is there a pattern of success which is worthy of replication? I believe that there is and although my school, Thomas Telford CTC, was not mentioned in your article with the five that achieved "about average" results, we believe that there is much excellence to write about and share with others as we do constantly.

KEVIN SATCHWELL Headteacher

Thomas Telford School, Old Park

Telford, Shropshire

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