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EDITIONS
Monday, 12 February, 2001, 14:33 GMT
Heads back specialist schooling
Middleton Technology School
Specialists in action: Middleton Technology School
One of the head teachers addressed by Tony Blair at his Downing Street briefing on secondary schools has said he is "delighted" with the government's plans.

John Jones said he thought his staff would be too when he talked to them on his return to Maghull High School in Sefton, Merseyside.

head teacher john jones
John Jones: "Extending the comprehensive system"
He said the prime minister wanted to address the needs of all children, so it was not a dismantling of the comprehensive system but an extension of it.

He welcomes the idea of bringing in outside companies or organisations to help schools which are in difficulties.

"If you work in failing schools as I have done on a number of occasions as a consultant, and as a facilitator, schools are very very keen to get as many people involved particularly from the private sector in helping them turn around the situation.

"I'm delighted to hear that the government is now extending its commitment to education, education, education."

One of ministers' main aims is to see more comprehensive schools becoming specialists in particular subjects.

pupil making biscuits
Middleton students make and sell their own bisbuits
As well as the existing arts, languages, technology and sports specialists, there will also be engineering, science, and business and enterprise.

Middleton Technology School in Manchester became a technology specialist in 1995.

Information and communication technology is used extensively throughout the school, which has about 200 computers altogether.

But enterprise is also something it does already: Everyone does a GNVQ in manufacturing and industry.

But one of the current projects goes a step further in enhancing business skills.

head teacher
Pam Coward: "It's a collaborative endeavour"
The students' own Voodoo company makes customised biscuits - for Valentine's Day, for instance - to sell to the public.

Its head teacher, Pam Coward, says she does not believe that schools such as hers are creating a "two-tier system".

She says being a specialist is about setting challenging targets in return for the extra funding, which means raising standards - and the more schools that are doing that, the better.

But it is also about going outside the school to work with primary schools, other secondary schools, local industry and pupils' homes to build "learning communities" so everyone benefits and whole areas can be regenerated.

It is not really about being better but about specialising in areas of the curriculum - non-specialists can serve their communities equally well.

"And really secondary education is a collaborative endeavour it's not really as competitive as the media like to suggest it is," she said.

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Head teacher John Jones
"Addressing the needs of all pupils"


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See also:

09 Feb 01 | UK Education
06 Feb 01 | UK Education
16 Nov 00 | UK Education
23 Mar 99 | UK Education
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