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Better all round

Professor Alan Smithers' research misses the point about specialist status ("Specialist schools fail to boost results in their own subjects", The TES, January 23).

Being a specialist school has improved results across the board, not just in our chosen specialism. And, as research by Professor David Jesson and others shows, specialist schools have continued to raise standards in GCSEs and deliver better value-added scores.

At Morley High, like many other specialist schools, we have used our specialism to work with other schools, the wider community and businesses, giving pupils the chance to develop new skills and knowledge that will help with their studies in a wide range of subjects. Rather than an "exclusive club", we are a national network of innovation and development from which all schools benefit.

Of course, many specialisms also spur subject improvement. So, as even Professor Smithers' report admits, science specialist schools are more than five times more likely to offer physics than other schools. Such schools are helping revive interest in GCSE and A-level science after years of decline.

John Townsley, Headteacher, Morley High, Leeds, and chair of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust's national headteacher steering group.

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