More schools gained 'specialist' status

More than half of all secondary schools have now gained specialist status, School Standards Minister David Miliband has announced.

It was revealed today that 238 schools had been successful in their bid to join the 1448 schools that are already part of the Specialist Schools Programme – 1,686 schools now have specialist status - some 54% of all secondary schools.

The latest specialist schools include the first Music and Humanities colleges which will be opening their doors in September this year, as well as a 'rural academy' of nine Cumbrian schools with specialist technology status.

Welcoming the new music specialism, renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber said: "Having schools which specialise in different skills is a brilliant idea. In order for Britain's young musicians to attain the highest level we need to nurture their talent at a very early age and music colleges will help to do this"

Mr Miliband said that over 1.5 million pupils are now taught in specialist schools – institutions that personalise education around the needs, aptitudes and aspirations of individual pupils.

Performance figures for this year showed how specialist schools continue to outstrip non-specialist schools at GCSE/GNVQ with 56.7% of pupils in specialists achieving five good grades compared to 49.2% in non-specialists

Mr Miliband said: "Specialist schools have a record of above average achievement so I am delighted that over half of our secondary schools have now gained specialist status. The Specialist Schools Programme has become a mass movement for raising standards and more and more schools will join their ranks later this year.

"We are continuing to support the expansion of this programme of reform with the exciting addition of music and humanities specialisms. The first specialist schools to be designated in these subjects will open this year and will drive innovation in their chosen areas and contribute to raising standards across the curriculum."

Specialist schools receive a one-off capital grant from the government of £100,000, plus an annual grant of £126 per student over four years. The government expects more than 75% of all secondary schools will be specialist by 2006.


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