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Specialists can help the rest

The Specialist Schools Trust welcomes your editorial which calls for collaboration between schools and fairer comparison of the performance of schools based on value-added ("Spread the money, or the magic", TES, November 21).

Professor David Jesson has pioneered for the Trust the use of value-added in judging performance. His approach compares key stage 2 results with GCSE results of the same pupils five years later.

With regard to the number of specialist schools, we are now actively planning for an entirely specialist system within three years under which:

* Each of the 200 to 300 underperforming schools currently ineligible to apply for specialist status will be partnered with a successful specialist to help them achieve that status.

* Clusters of local specialist schools will work together to raise standards. Such collaboration might include joint hiring of support staff in areas such as IT joint teacher training and use of master teachers in each subject to help every school in the cluster.

* A local cluster of five or six schools working together, each of which could have two specialist subjects, would provide centres of excellence for every subject. Through a joint admissions programme such groups of schools would dramatically improve the choice and diversity in state education.

We agree with Martin Rogers ("A policy that has failed the poorest", TES, November 21) that every child is entitled to a decent education.

We believe this can be achieved by partnering our most successful schools with those underperforming.

Sir Cyril Taylor Chairman Specialist Schools Trust 37 Queen's GateLondon SW7

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