Specialists rule roost

There is no substitute for hard work by staff and students, concludes a study by the National Foundation for Educational Research which aimed to identify those features which made specialist schools successful.

The report, based on fieldwork in 20 schools, identified "interconnectedness", whole-school ethos, management styles, teachers going the extra mile, innovative use of staffing, a focus on the individual, extra resources, and a broad, flexible curriculum as making a difference. But researchers say there are no easy solutions, no instant recipes for success.

"One of the main ingredients of success in any school is the continued hard work of staff and students, and the interconnectedness of all these activities. Without these key ingredients, the other factors listed are unlikely to make any significant impact."

The findings build on the work of David Jesson whose previous research showed, to the delight of the Technology Colleges Trust, that specialist schools made some of the strongest performance gains of all comprehensives.

High performing specialist schools: What makes the difference? from NFER, The Publications Unit, The Library, The Mere, Upton Park, Slough, SL1 2DQ, pound;8.00 including postage.

Tel: 01753 747281; fax: 01753 747193, email: book.sales@nfer.ac.uk

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