Mr Blunkett revealed that 125 new schools will receive beacon status in September 1999. The schools will receive around£30,000 extra a year to enable them to share the secrets of their educational success so that they can help to boost standards in other schools.
Mr Blunkett, who together with school standards minister Estelle Morris joined in final preparations for a Christmas carol service at Margaret McMillan Nursery School in Islington, London, an existing beacon school, said:
'We have 75 beacon schools at present which have been piloting a range of initiatives to share both ideas and approaches to teaching, and to pass on expertise in a whole host of subjects. There has already been encouraging progress, for example:
Parklands Junior School in Romford, Essex is collaborating with local schools on methods for pupil benchmarking and tracking (comparing a pupil's current performance with his or her prior attainment) in order to better evaluate and monitor pupil progress. It has also run courses for new headteachers on leadership and is developing materials to support staff involved in mentoring trainee teachers;
Crompton House C of E School, a secondary school in Oldham, Lancashire, specialises in the professional development of teachers, aspiring and practising departmental heads, and newly appointed head teachers.
Carwarden House School, a special school in Surrey, is working closely with mainstream schools in the local area in order to share its expertise in the area of special educational needs.
Margaret McMillan Nursery School itself has been inundated with requests for visits to observe good practice from teachers in other nursery and primary schools, education officers and other child care
organisations. The school is introducing a form of evaluation to assess the success of these workshops.
'This expansion means that there will be a total of 200 beacon schools from next September. It will ensure that even more schools and teacher training organisations have the opportunity to benefit from the successful practice in beacon schools.
'It is essential we do everything we can to ensure good practice is accessible to as many children as possible. Beacon schools can play a key role in the drive to raise standards by sharing the secrets of their success.2
1. In Spring 1999, a number of schools identified as fulfilling the criteria required for achieving Beacon status, will be invited to apply to become a beacon school. The 125 schools awarded beacon status from September 1999 will receive around£30,000 a year in exchange for an agreed programme of additional activities and their beacon status will last for an initial three years.
2. Schools will be required to demonstrate that the extra funding is linked to the promotion of good practice. Each beacon school will be asked to provide an annual report on its activities to disseminate good practice, indicating the expenditure required to undertake those activities and assessing the impact of the activities. LEAs will be asked to demonstrate how the activities of beacon schools within their authority contribute to their Education Development Plan.
3. Invitations will be issued to those schools identified as eligible to apply for beacon status on the basis of strict quality criteria,
including, for example, school inspection evidence.
4. Margaret McMillan Nursery School in Hornsey Rise, Islington, was one of 75 nurseries, primary, secondary and special schools to receive Beacon status in July.