Specialists keep standards high

18th June 2004 at 01:00
Mike Baker's fears (Another Voice, TES, May 28 ) that subjects not at the heart of a specialist school's ethos may wither are unfounded.

The specialist schools programme was set up originally to raise standards across the board.

Research by Professor David Jesson of York university shows that specialist schools outperformed other maintained schools not only in their specialist subjects, but also in the three core curriculum areas of English, maths and science.

In 2003 an average of 38.2 per cent of pupils at specialist schools achieved a C grade or higher at GCSE in these subjects, compared with 31.2 per cent in other schools.

The current spread of specialisms - 526 technology colleges and only four humanities colleges - is unsurprising considering the latter has only been available in the past year.

By contrast, technology has been around for a decade.

The Specialist Schools Trust is working closely with aspiring schools and local education authorities with the aim of achieving an even balance of specialist subjects and encouraging collaborative work between schools.

A result of such collaboration is the strength of demand for advanced level study in the humanities (history, geography, RE, sociology and psychology) across the four participating schools in South Brent - one business and enterprise college, two technology colleges and a city academy specialising in sport.

Kathryn Heaps


John Kelly girls' technology college

(Class of '94)

Crest Road

Dollis Hill

London NW2

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