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Life is sweeter for Cadbury's headteacher

There is a feel-good factor at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury technology college in Birmingham - and that is why Lesley Brooman, headteacher, believes results are rising.

"The pupils feel special and this translates throughout the school, its pupils, staff and the community," she said.

The Birmingham school, originally established with money from the Cadbury family, makers of the famous chocolate, gained specialist technology status in September 2001.

Mrs Brooman admitted the extra money was important but said it was the status "which has inspired the school and massively helped to raise standards".

Progress since it gained specialist status has been impressive, particularly considering 12 per cent of its 700 pupils have significant special needs.

The percentage of pupils getting five or more GCSE at grades A*-C increased from 26 per cent in 2000 to 40 per cent this year, while the proportion staying on into the sixth form rose from 55 per cent in 1999 to 72 per cent this year. The school was granted an initial pound;100,000 followed by pound;80,000 per year for four years. Much has been invested in technology and the school boasts 60 laptop computers, three suites of 25 PCs and 30 PC writing tablets.

Sir Adrian Cadbury, chancellor of Aston university and grandson of Dame Elizabeth, donated part of the pound;50,000 the school had to raise to gain specialist status.

Mrs Brooman says that donations have played a large part in the school's rebirth as a technology college.

"It is important, but it is the status, not the money, which means the most to the staff and pupils," she said. It not only inspired for pupils and staff, but also opened the door to new partnerships and opportunities which would not otherwise have been there.

She cited the Oakes Collegiate Partnership as an example. This partnership of five Birmingham schools - which all have or aspire to specialist status - allows them to swap good practice and ideas.

And said Mrs Brooman: "Eventually, we hope the schools, which will possess different specialisms, will allow pupils to use the very best facilities at each of them to suit their needs."

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