Specialist but comprehensive

YOU imply that specialist schools like Biddick in Sunderland, are little different from grammar schools (TES, November 6).

While we cannot speak for other specialist schools, Biddick remains committed to the comprehensive ideal. When considering applying for specialist school status the governing body and staff were clear that the bid would not result in changes to ethos or philosophy or to the admission procedures.

The school remains committed to non-selective education. It is also committed to its community role. Indeed, as a specialist sports college, Biddick has increased community use and strengthened its support for local primary schools, all of whose pupils are welcome at Biddick.

Further, far from being selective, the school has 42 pupils with statements of special educational needs, four on stage 4, 42 on stage 3 and a further 100 pupils on the lower stages of the special needs code of practice.

Biddick is a fine example of the success that can be achieved by community comprehensive schools. Specialist status is only one example of that success alongside improving examination results, excellent pastoral care, happy pupils, satisfied parents and an increased role in the community.

G G Watson Headteacher G Potter Chairman of governors Biddick comprehensive school Sunderland

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