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Specialists will have to share resources

Schools bidding for Government money to set themselves up as specialist technology, language, arts or sports schools will have to make their facilities available to the wider community.

Estelle Morris, education junior minister, said: "In the next bidding round, schools will have to show that any benefits they have will be shared by other schools and the wider community."

This would mean greater collaboration with feeder schools, allowing teachers in-service training, and providing family learning centres and homework clubs. Technology schools should make software available for numeracy and literacy schemes for primary-age children.

Specialist schools could form a focal point in education action zones in disadvantaged areas.

Ms Morris this week announced 21 schools which have successfully applied to become a technology or language college under the previous government's scheme. The specialist schools initiative, launched four years ago, required schools to draw up a three-year plan with measurable performance targets. Schools had to raise Pounds 100,000 of private sponsorship, which is matched by Pounds 100,000 capital funding and Pounds 100 per pupil for three years from the Department for Education and Employment.

The new criteria will involve private sponsorship, but the minister said the details were still being discussed. All specialist schools will be monitored in their third year, to ensure they are reaching their targets, before funding is extended.

There are now 231 specialist schools across 89 local education authorities. Of the 21 approved this week, 16 are technology colleges and five language colleges.

Ms Morris said: "We want to encourage specialist schools to share their resources and specialist knowledge with neighbouring schools and the local community. They will be outward-looking centres of good practice and achievement. We will want to give some preference to applications from inner cities and outer urban areas with high levels of socio-economic problems. "

The 16 new technology colleges are: the Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat, Hereford; Bishop Luffa, Chichester; Bury St Edmunds County Upper School; Castleford High School; Cleeve School, Cheltenham; Hampstead School, London; Hartsdown School, Margate; Higham's Park, London; King Edward VII Upper School, Melton Mowbray; Lutterworth Grammar; Lytham St Anne's High; Speedwell School, Bristol; St Birinus, Didcot; Steyning Grammar, West Sussex; Thomas Alleyne's High, Uttoxeter; Woolwich Polytechnic School, London. The new language colleges are: Didcot Girls' High; Penrice School, St Austell; Haydon School, London; Imberhorne School, East Grinstead, and St Mary's High, Chesterfield.

Education action zones, page 7

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