I write to offer some thoughts on your leader and the article by Nicholas Pyke on the specialist schools' initiative, being one of those schools successful in the most recent round.
I challenge the assumption that schools in "rural and depressed industrial areas" would not apply and have no hope of raising matched funding. Our own situation shows that, with determination, you can find sponsorship. Redruth in Cornwall was once the centre of a flourishing mining and engineering economy. Currently, the region is in serious decline. Male unemployment stands at 27 per cent, and what work there is, is often seasonal or part-time. Our school serves a small urban area with a surrounding rural fringe suffering huge social deprivation. With the highest number of free meals in Cornwall, many single parents and 131 children with statements of special needs, it seems to be just the position of "no hope" that you described.
But succeed we did because we had vision, self-belief, determination and stamina. From a hesitant start, our sponsorship grew in strength, and I am convinced our bid succeeded because of the local dimension; many small businesses gave something, and it soon added up. It united an area in desperate need of economic regeneration and is building a powerful school-industry partnership, which hopefully will offer opportunities to our youngsters as they face the challenges of an increasingly technological world.
J SHEARS Headteacher Redruth community school Redruth Cornwall.