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'SPECIALIST SCHOOLS, THE MODEL FOR REFORM '

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Specialist schools are a driving force for raising standards said Schools Minister Jacqui Smith today as she congra...
Specialist schools are a driving force for raising standards said Schools Minister Jacqui Smith today as she congratulated the 123 schools across the country that have been successful in their bid for Specialist status.

Specialist schools - with external sponsors, strong leadership and a clear sense of mission backed by challenging targets and partnerships with other schools - have consistently outperformed other comprehensives. This year 59.4% of pupils in Specialist schools achieved 5+A*-Cs at GCSE compared with 48% of pupils in non-Specialists - a gap of more than 11pecentage points. And, in 2005, pupils in Specialist schools in the most deprived areas are doing better than pupils in non-Specialist schools in the most deprived areas.

The addition of a further 123 schools to the programme means that nearly 80% of all maintained secondary schools are now Specialist.

The programme has delivered real and significant improvements in standards and the Schools White Paper makes clear how the Government will build on this model to create more good local schools and attract more external partners into education.

The White Paper Trust model is an extension of what is already working in our best schools and will ensure that within each individual school, and across the system as a whole, there is a clear focus on improving the education for every young person - particularly the most disadvantaged.

Jacqui Smith said:

'The Specialist programme is at the heart of the transformation in standards that we have seen in our secondary schools. Performance of Specialist schools is higher than in non-Specialists and we have a duty to empower all schools to reach these high standards.

'Growing numbers of schools joining this successful programme is good news for teachers, parents and pupils. These schools will join other Specialist schools working in partnership with other local primary and secondaries, with partners and sponsors in the private, public and charity sectors to raise attainment, not just in their Specialism, but across the board.

'Using the ideas, energy and expertise of business in education has a long and successful tradition in this country. Specialist schools have shown the impact that this kind of partnership can have and we will take this forward with the creation of new Trust schools, giving parents real choice by delivering a climate in every school where excellent results and high expectations come as standard.'

Nearly 2.6 million students are now being taught in a Specialist school.

Of the 123 schools who have been awarded Specialist status as a result of the latest bidding round the specialisms breakdown as

follows: 12 in Sport, 3 in languages, 25 in arts, 16 in Business & Enterprise, 6 in Engineering, 12 in Humanities, 16 in Maths and Computing, 3 in music, 13 in science, 7 in technology and 10 with combined specialisms.

The schools that have been successful today will begin operating as Specialist schools from September. The vast majority of maintained secondary schools - a total of 2,502 schools (79%) - now have specialist status.

At the forefront of the programme are those areas of the country where all secondary schools have attained Specialist status. Today Devon, Gateshead and North Tyneside join six authorities from previous rounds in boasting 100% specialism.

NOTES

This Press Notice applies to England.

1. There are currently 2379 secondary schools operating with specialist status and a total of 2502 designated schools.

2. Specialist schools have a focus on their chosen subject area but must meet National Curriculum requirements and deliver a broad and balanced education to all pupils. There are now ten categories of specialist school: Technology; Language; Arts; Sports; Business and Enterprise; Engineering; Mathematics & Computing; Science; Humanities and Music. Schools can also combine any two specialisms.

3. To apply for specialist status, schools must raise£50,000 in private sector sponsorship (less in the case of small schools with under 500 pupils on roll) and draw up a four-year school and community plan to raise standards, increase provision and encourage take-up in their specialist subjects. Their community development plan will show how they will share the benefits of good practice, expertise and resources with other schools named in the plan and with identified groups within their wider community. The Government believes that widening schools' options in this way means they are able to develop their individual strengths, promote innovation and spread good practice throughout the whole school system.

4. In order to help them develop their specialism, specialist schools receive the following additional funding from the Government:

£100,000 for a capital project to enhance the facilities in the subjects related to the school's specialism; and recurrent funding of around£129 per pupil per year for four years (£129 from September 2005), to implement their specialist school development plans. In addition to the£100,000 capital grant the school itself must raise£50,000 in unconditional sponsorship (less for small schools with under 500 pupils on roll) towards the capital project. All specialist schools are expected to target around one third of their specialist school recurrent funding on sharing resources and expertise in their specialist area with partner schools and the wider community.

5. In 2002 the Government introduced a 'Partnership Fund' to provide support to specialist school applicants that can demonstrate their sustained efforts to find sponsorship have been unsuccessful. The fund has£3 million available in 2004/05 (comprised of both private sector and Government funding) and is administered by the Specialist Schools Trust in accordance with DfES criteria. 33 schools have benefited so far.

6. A total of nine LEAs are now 100% specialist. Lambeth, North Somerset, Rutland, Wakefield, Plymouth, West Berkshire, Devon, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

7. A list of successful schools can be found here.

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