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The government's flagship specialist schools programme is to be ...
The government's flagship specialist schools programme is to be

expanded to 500 by 2002 - making one in seven secondary schools a

specialist school, schools minister Estelle Morris has announced.

In addition, the schools which specialise in technology, languages,

sport or arts are to have extra funding to develop closer links with

other local primary and secondary schools. By 2001 the programme will

be supported by£65m a year.

Estelle Morris said:

'Specialist schools are central to the government's agenda of

supporting diversity and promoting excellence. Since last May, we

have rapidly expanded the number of specialist schools from 222 to

330. Today I am pleased to announce that we intend to have 500 such

schools by September 2001 - more than one in seven secondary schools

in England.

'We have spread them throughout England, with more schools in

inner-city areas and with a greater link to local communities. Some

specialist schools are pioneering work for gifted primary children,

others are using new technology to its best effect. As a whole

specialist schools are performing very well - with 17 out of the top

100 most improved schools last year being part of the programme.

'Many specialist schools' plans now provide for around£20,000 each

year to be spent on work with other schools and other community

projects. From September 1999 we will provide an extra£20 per pupil

for such work, up to£20,000 per school. This will be match funded by

the school and will be additional to the existing£100 per pupil

which we already provide.

'Among the many possibilities the new money could be used to

- help with the professional development of staff from other schools

- support specialist classes for gifted children from local schools

- offer a wider range of technology back-up to nearby schools

- provide language classes for children from other schools

- develop a homework centre or Saturday school

- provide access to state-of-the-art sports facilities to nearby primary and secondary schools

- support adult literacy and numeracy programmes

Speaking of the role of the specialist schools and their broader task

of school improvement, Estelle Morris said:

'Specialist schools are a crucial part of the agenda for school

improvement. The programme is about modernising the comprehensive

principle. It allows schools to play to their strengths and to use a

particular area of the curriculum as a focus for a rigorous approach

to school improvement benefiting all their pupils.

'Their success will be a central part our drive to raise standards

and their work with other schools will spread the benefits of their

success and specialist support beyond their own boundaries.'


1. The specialist schools programme started with technology colleges,

announced in September 1993. The first language colleges opened in

1995, and the first arts and sports colleges in September 1997.

2. There are now 330 specialist schools: 227 technology colleges, 58

language colleges, 26 sports colleges and 19 arts colleges. The

government had previously announced plans for 450 such schools by the

end of this parliament.

3. All maintained secondary schools are eligible to apply. They must

first raise£100,000 private sector sponsorship and prepare a three

year development plan (school and community) with measurable

improvement targets. In return the successful schools receive grants

of£100,000 capital and£100 per pupil per year (maximum£100,000)

for three years. Schools successful in meeting their targets are

eligible to apply for an extension of funding against a new

development plan (school and community).

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