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It pays to be a specialist...

The specialist schools programme started with technology colleges in 1994. The first language colleges opened in 1995 and the first arts and sports colleges in 1997.

* Engineering, science and business and enterprise colleges will open in September 2002.

There are 313 technology colleges, 99 language colleges, 67 sports colleges and 57 arts colleges. The Government plans to have 1,000 specialist schools by September 2005 and 1,500 by 2006.

* 54 per cent of pupils in secialist schools in 2000 gained five or more A* to C GCSEs compared with 45 per cent in other maintained schools.

* To qualify, schools must raise pound;50,000 sponsorship, prepare four-year development plans and involve other schools and the community.

In return, they get a pound;100,000 capital grant and pound;123 extra per pupil per year (for the first 1,000 pupils), initially for four years. Schools meeting their targets can apply for extra funding for another three years.

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