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GREEN LIGHT FOR ALL SCHOOLS TO BECOME SPECIALIST

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Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke has announced a...
Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke has announced a

radical expansion of the specialist schools programme, giving every

secondary school the chance to become specialist.

The funding cap on the expansion of the scheme will be lifted and

there will be no limit on the numbers that can take part - any school

that meets the required standard will be able to become specialist.

Mr Clarke also announced that schools which have shown an

entrepreneurial approach to raising sponsorship, but had been unable

to reach the target figure will be able to get help from a new

Partnership Fund. The Partnership Fund will be funded with£3m in the

first year and will be run in conjunction with the Technology

Colleges Trust.

Specialist schools are at the heart of the government's drive to

raise standards in secondary education and to move beyond the old

one-size-fits-all-system. Expanding the specialist school scheme will

not mean a compromise in standards - excellence will be spread, not

diluted. Specialism means schools working with their pupils to raise

levels of achievement across the curriculum. The government is

challenging schools to deliver high quality plans and targets that

drive improvement, whether they are new entrants to the scheme or

seeking to renew their status.

- In 2001 on average 52.8 per cent of pupils in specialist schools

achieved five or more good passes at GCSE, compared with 45.7 per

cent of pupils in other maintained schools.

- Specialist schools have a focus in one or a combination of the

following areas: technology, languages, sport, arts, business &

enterprise, engineering, science, mathematics & computing.

- There are now 992 specialist schools in England, teaching more than

1 million pupils and covering 97 per cent of LEAs.

Speaking later at the Kent Headteacher Conference in Ashford, Charles

Clarke gave more details of the announcement:

'I want as many schools to become specialist as possible. If your

local school is a specialist school, it is more likely to be a good

school - one which not only achieves more highly, but which offers

greater choice to pupils within a broad and balanced curriculum. This

is why specialist schools lie at the heart of our drive to raise

standards and offer more choice in secondary schools.

'Raising sponsorship is a very important part of becoming a

specialist school, capturing the spirit of innovation of

entrepreneurship that is integral to the programme. It also helps

schools to build lasting and valuable links with businesses. However,

we want to remove barriers to the expansion of the specialist schools

scheme whilst ensuring quality is not compromised in any way. Some

schools have experienced genuine difficulty in raising the required

funds and it is to help these schools that we are setting up the

Partnership Fund.

'Being a specialist school is not only about developing its own

individual ethos, or raising sponsorship, but is also about driving

collaboration between schools and other institutions. The expansion

of this programme will take our ambitions to the next level, and play

a pivotal role in the continuing drive to raise standards and pride

in our schools'.

NOTES

This Press Notice applies to England.

1. Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke announced the

expansion of specialist school scheme in the house of commons on 28

November 2002. Further details were given in a speech to the Kent

Heads Conference at the Ashford International Hotel the same day.

2. Specialist schools have a special focus on their chosen subject

area but must meet the full National Curriculum requirements and

deliver a broad and balanced education to pupils. They work within a

named 'family of schools' for the benefit of pupils beyond their own

school boundaries and other groups of people in the wider community.

3. All maintained secondary schools in England are eligible to apply

to become specialist schools. They raise£50,000 from private sector

sponsorship (less in the case of schools with less than 500 pupils on

roll) and prepare four-year development plans both for improvements

in teaching and learning, and for involving other local schools and

the wider community. In return they receive a one-off capital grant

of£100,000 and£123 per pupil recurrent funding initially for 4

years.

4. The Specialist Schools Programme began with Technology Colleges in

1994 and was subsequently expanded to include Languages (1995),

Sports and Arts (1997) and Business & Enterprise, Engineering,

Science, and Mathematics & Computing (2002).

5. Since September 2002 there is a total of 992 specialist schools,

comprising 443 Technology, 157 Language, 161 Sports, 173 Arts, 18

Business & Enterprise, 4 Engineering, 12 Mathematics & Computing, and

24 Science Colleges. (Department for Education and Skills Press

notice 137/2002, dated 4 July 2002 refers)

6. The targets of at least 1,000 specialist schools by 2003 and 1,500

by 2005 was announced in the White Paper Schools Achieving Success

published in September 2001.

7. For more information on specialist schools see

www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/specialistschools

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