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Tuesday, 15 June, 1999, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Special needs schools raise status
Abbey Hill
Abbey Hill School: Award winner
Three schools devoted to teaching pupils with special needs have become technology colleges in the latest wave of specialist schools.

"We believe there is scope for special schools to benefit from the same opportunities available to mainstream schools in order to raise standards for all their pupils," said the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris.

Two of schools made a joint application - Abbey Hill School in Stockton-on-Tees and Beaumont Hill School in Darlington.

The third, Crosshill School in Blackburn, was also a joint application, with a mainstream school in the town, Queen's Park High.

Altogether, 37 more secondary schools are joining the programme - 27 becoming technology colleges and 10 language colleges - bringing the total number of specialist schools in England to 400. The government intends to have 800 specialist schools by 2002.

Standards drive

This will include 268 technology colleges, 70 language colleges, 33 sports colleges and 29 arts colleges.

All state secondary schools can apply for specialist status - which will bring them a 100,000 capital grant and 120 per pupil per year, up to a maximum of 120,000, initially for three years. After that they must apply to have the status renewed.

The schools have to raise 100,000 themselves in private sponsorship. They must prepare development plans with measurable targets in teaching and learning in their specialist subject area, and show how they would involve other local schools and the wider community.

Higher achievement

"Specialist schools are an important part of our standards agenda and our approach to modernising comprehensive education," Ms Morris said. "Specialist schools are achieving improved standards and making a valuable contribution to their communities."

The Department for Education points to Prudhoe Community High School in Northumberland as an example of good practice.

It became a technology college in 1995 and provides information and communications technology training to 150 staff in 11 primary schools that send pupils to it. The school has also established an 'open learning' site which is used by the wider community.

Ms Morris cited an analysis of GCSE results undertaken by the Technology Colleges Trust, which shows that 55% of the schools designated as technology colleges in 1994 had improved their performance by more than 20% by last year, in terms of the number of pupils getting at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C.

Here is the full list of 37 new specialist schools:

TECHNOLOGY COLLEGES:

NORTH EAST

Abbey Hill School, Stockton and Beaumont Hill School, Darlington
Grangefield School, Stockton-on-Tees
St. Leonard's RC Comprehensive School, Durham

EASTERN

Reepham High School, Norfolk
Shoeburyness County High School, Southend-on-Sea

LONDON

Parliament Hill School, Camden
Queensmead School, Hillingdon

NORTH WEST & MERSEYSIDE

Crosshill School and Queen's Park High School, Blackburn
Brine Leas County High School, Cheshire
St Ambrose Barlow RC High School, Salford
Ribblesdale County High School, Clitheroe
Woodham Comprehensive School, Durham

SOUTH WEST

Crispin School, Street, Somerset
Dene Magna School, Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire
Dorcan School, Swindon, Wiltshire
Downend School, South Gloucestershire
Gordano School, Portishead, North Somerset

WEST MIDLANDS

Aston Manor School, Birmingham
The Heartlands High School, Birmingham
Chase High School, Malvern, Worcestershire
Joseph Leckie School, Walsall
South Bromsgrove High School, Worcestershire

EAST MIDLANDS

The Robert Manning School, Bourne, Lincolnshire

YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER

Moor End High School, Kirklees
Winifred Holtby School, Kingston-upon-Hull

LANGUAGE COLLEGES:

LONDON:

Our Lady's Convent High School, Hackney

EAST MIDLANDS

Judgemeadow Community College, Leicester
Kingsthorpe Upper School, Northamptonshire

NORTH WEST

Little Lever School, Bolton,

YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE

Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley
The Holy Family School, Keighley

NORTH EASTERN

Ryton Comprehensive School, Gateshead

SOUTH EASTERN

Saint George's Church of England School, Gravesend
The Holt School, Wokingham
Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls, Tonbridge

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