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Specialist status snobbery

We wish to challenge an article in the 2005 spring edition of the Specialist Schools TrustNews by Sir Cyril Taylor, the trust's chairman, in which he disparages schools that have not applied for specialist school status.

In September 2001, the governors of Poole high school debated the possibility of applying for specialist status. They decided to consult the staff.

In November 2001, they agreed unanimously to support the staff consensus that "for a comprehensive school serving all in our local community and aiming to broaden students' horizons, specialist status would limit rather than enhance the education we provide".

Sir Cyril writes that most of the schools which have yet to decide to bid for specialist status are "under-performing schools in a socially disadvantaged area of the country".

Poole high school is an oversubscribed, successful foundation comprehensive school. In 2004, our 150 more able key stage 4 students, with five or more A*-C grades, achieved a value-added score of 1022.8, compared with 1021.0 for grammar schools nationally.

Clearly, parents see us as a popular and effective school in the town which also has four specialist-status, non-selective secondary schools.

Sir Cyril says he wishes to promote parental choice, but seems, like the original Ford car, to offer any colour you choose, as long as it is black!

Michael Beesley Deputy head Poole high school Harbin Campus Wimborne Road Poole Dorset

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