Specialist schools teach a flexible lesson

22 Jun 00
The government has expanded the specialist schools programme and published research showing that such schools are raising standards faster than their mainstream counterparts.

23 June 2000

The Department for Education and Employment published the study about the impact of the programme on June 20 – the same day it awarded specialist status to 55 more English schools.

The move, which brings the total to 534, means the government has beaten its own target of creating 500 specialist schools by September and brings it closer to its proposed second target of 800 by September 2003.

The research comprises a survey by the London School of Economics of the 238 specialist schools which were up and running in 1997, and 12 specialist school case studies undertaken by Leeds University.

It reveals an average annual improvement in the percentage of pupils gaining five or more A–C grades at GCSE of 1.11%, compared with 0.75% in non-specialist schools, between 1997 and 1999.

The studies also showed that specialist schools were more flexible when taking account of the differing needs of their pupils. Schools standards minister Estelle Morris said: 'Specialist schools have the confidence and courage needed to question what works and what does not work in raising standards and to translate this into new approaches to teaching and learning.'

Graham Lane, the Local Government Association's education chair, called for the government to find a way to improve all schools rather than a select few. 'That is the challenge that no government has ever been prepared to accept,' he said.


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