The really interesting question is why England's 345 specialist schools are so popular, with four out of five oversubscribed, even though many were previously underperforming and undersubscribed inner city schools or secondary modern schools.
We believe there are two reasons. First, because they offer an exciting modern curriculum focusing on teaching the core skills which modern jobs require, such as communications, numeracy and information technology. Second, because the early evidence is that many specialist schools are raising achievement levels. Our own recent review shows that of the first group of 44 specialist schools designated in 1994, four out of five have increased their 5 A to C GCSE results significantly. The average gain was 9 per cent, from 40 per cent in 1994 to 49 per cent in 1997. This compares to an increase of just 3 per cent for all comprehensives.We hope that the success of specialist schools will in time convince even sceptics such as Roy Hattersley of the value of diversity.
Cyril Taylor. Technology Colleges Trust. 37 Queen's Gate, London