radical expansion of the specialist schools programme, giving every
secondary school the chance to become specialist.
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
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
'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'.
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
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