All but four councils have put forward bids for the inaugural round. But Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde, Orkney and the Western Isles have said they are interested in putting forward candidates at a later date.
Schools of ambition will receive at least pound;100,000 a year over a three-year programme, with further possible support from private philanthropists. As well as using the cash to improve their own performance, schools will be expected to help set new national standards in excellence.
Roy Jobson, president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and a member of the advisory board for the programme, acknowledged that the funding represented only 3 per cent of an average secondary school budget. As such, the emphasis should be on investing in leadership and good practice. The funding should be seen as "icing on the cake money" to bring about even more improvement in schools.
Mr Jobson said reservations expressed by some people had been met in that the candidates chosen to go on the programme would not be tagged as "failing" schools, they would not be city academies and the project would address a variety of different factors.
The first tranche of 20 schools should be named in June.
* The 42 bids involve 43 schools (Glasgow has put forward two candidates in a joint bid): Aberdeen - Northfield Academy, St Machar Academy; Aberdeenshire -Fraserburgh Academy; Angus - Arbroath Academy, Brechin High; Argyll and Bute -Islay High; Dumfries and Galloway - Dumfries Academy, Castle Douglas High, Wallace Hall Academy; Dundee - Braeview Academy, St John's High, Morgan Academy; East Ayrshire - Doon Academy; East Dunbartonshire - St Ninian's High, Campsie View School; East Lothian - Preston Lodge High, Ross High, Dunbar Grammar; East Renfrewshire - Barrhead High; Edinburgh - Craigroyston High; Falkirk - Braes High; Fife - Buckhaven High, Kirkland High; Glasgow - Rosshall Academy, St Paul's High, Springburn Academy, Castlemilk High St Margaret Mary's Secondary (joint bid); Highland - Inverness High; Midlothian - Newbattle High; Moray - Lossiemouth High; North Ayrshire - Ardrossan Academy; North Lanarkshire - Cardinal Newman High; Perth and Kinross - Blairgowrie High; Renfrewshire - Linwood High; Scottish Borders - Hawick High; Shetland - Anderson High, Scalloway Junior High; South Ayrshire - Carrick Academy; South Lanarkshire - learning community around Lanark Grammar; Stirling - St Modan's High; West Dunbartonshire - Our Lady and St Patrick's High; West Lothian - Burnhouse School.