Sir Peter Newsam's comments on specialist schools and academies are wide of the mark ("Seven reasons why Old Etonians might run our schools jolly well", Comment, May 23).
Having a specialism does make a difference across the whole curriculum. Not only do school leaders confirm that it has enabled them to change their schools' ethos for the better, but our annual analysis of GCSE results has shown that specialist schools outperform non-specialists on all measurements. Now that more than 90 per cent of schools are specialist, the benefits shine through in the improved (and improving) performance of our secondary education system.
Sir Peter is also wrong about academies. They are funded on a basis comparable with other similar schools in their areas, and their buildings are now procured through Building Schools for the Future, just like other secondaries. A report last year by the National Audit Office confirmed that academies are on track to deliver value for money. And they are raising standards in the areas that need it most, improving at twice the national average rate for key stage 3 tests and more than three times the national average for students securing five or more GCSEs at A*-C.
Elizabeth Reid, Chief executive, Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.