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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 11:33 GMT
Two-thirds of schools specialise
Specialist schools
More than two-thirds of England's secondary schools now have specialist status, the government has announced.

Some 2,174 have raised the required 50,000 in sponsorship and passed criteria laid down by ministers.

The status means specialists - focusing on areas like arts, sport, languages and sciences - are given more money per pupil, in an effort to raise standards.

But Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins said the government's effort to improve schools was "half-hearted".

'Raising standards'

He added that the specialist schools programme would do "little to improve academic achievement, classroom discipline and school pride". If applicants for specialist status are successful, they get a one-off grant of 100,000 and then an extra 126 per pupil for four years.

Education minister Stephen Twigg said: "It is clear that specialist status acts as a driver for reform and a lever for raising standards.

"The programme is spearheading the movement away from the old 'one-size-fits-all' model to one where education is tailored to individual pupils."

In 2004, 57.4% of pupils in specialist schools achieved five or more grades A* to C at GCSE and equivalent, compared with 48.2% of pupils in non-specialist state schools.

The computer software firm Microsoft has announced it is donating 1.5m to support 100 schools applying for specialist status.

Specialist schools now a majority
29 Jan 04 |  Education

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