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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

The government intends to remove the national cap on support funding for specialist schools enabling every school in England that met the required standard to join the specialist school programme, education secretary Charles Clarke announced in the commons.

In addition, he said, the Department for Education and Skills had established a new£3m partnership fund for 2003-04 to be administered with the Technology Colleges Trust. This was designed specifically to help schools that had difficulty in raising the£50,000 sponsorship requirement for schools wishing to apply for specialist status.

Meg Munn, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, asked what support would be given to schools who applied but whose plan was deemed not good enough.

Mr Clarke said support was offered through the Technology Colleges Trust and local education authorities. He congratulated Sheffield's director of education for the work being done to enable all the authority's schools that wanted to become specialist to achieve that by 2006, provided they met the quality standard. At present, 10 out of 27 schools in the city were specialist.

Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman of the commons education select committe, asked Mr Clarke to study Ofsted evidence and that from a range of academics who were concerned about the reltionship between investment in specialist schools, which was a great deal of taxpayers' money, and results.

'We know that good schools become specialist schools, but as yet specialist schools are not producing good schools. However, it would be churlish not to welcome the announcement that many more schools will be able to benefit from specialist status', added Mr Sheerman.

Hansard 28 Nov 2002: Column 441- 443

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