There is really no comparison

5th December 2003 at 00:00
I refer to the article "X factor or fiction?" (TES, November 21), which discussed the standards achieved by specialist schools.

I do not take issue with the content of the article. Obviously there are non-specialist schools working hard to maximise the potential of their pupils, with a great deal of success.

However, I would point out that your table of comparators was not, in the case of Wellington school, comparing "like with like".

Wellington school is in a local education authority which retains total selection (Trafford). Forty per cent of 11-year-old pupils are offered a grammar school place. Wellington School is not a grammar.

Therefore, to compare its results with a comprehensive school from another local authority, which admits the full ability range, is a flawed comparison.

Fifty-one per cent achieving five or more subjects at GCSE A-C grades in 2002, which rose to 55 per cent in 2003, are exceptional results, when the top 40 per cent in ability terms have been removed.

The Office for Standards in Education recognised the quality of such results when, in 2002, it reported the school as "excellent".

Similarly this year David Bell, the chief inspector, in his report to Parliament named Wellington school "outstanding".

John Watson Headteacher Wellington School Wellington Road Timperley Cheshire

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