Beacon schools get pound;1.8m

1st May 1998 at 01:00
Top schools will be paid to promote good teaching methods in two experimental schemes approved by the Governmentyesterday.

The pound;1.8 million Beacon Schools initiative will encourage 100 high performers to spread their influence through publications and computer links.

At the same time, a giant network of successful primaries has been set up to offer teacher training.

Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector, has had a big hand in both schemes which are expected to help influence the development of education policy.

School standards minister Stephen Byers said the programme will have a key role in raising standards: "They will help prevent less successful schools foundering on the rocks of failure. They will also act as a guiding light for others to follow, by representing examples of best practice in areas such as numeracy, tackling disaffection or overall performance."

Each Beacon School will get extra money of up to pound;50,000. In return they will help spread their expertise by publishing guidance in pamphlets, books or on the Internet, taking part in conferences, or helping in research.

Some, near universities, will be named "laboratory" schools, where researchers will be able to observe pupils at work.

The 100 participants were all identified by the Office for Standards in Education as outstanding and named in Mr Woodhead's annual report. They were asked to bid to become Beacon Schools.

In a separate initiative, the Government's teacher-training quango has given final approval to the National Outstanding Primary School SCITT (school-centred initial teacher training) Consortium.

The 50-school consortium will concentrate on the essentials of literacy and numeracy. It will take on 96 graduates in September and, in conjunction with Nottingham University, will offer them a one-year training.

The scheme has been set up with pound;50,000 from a London-based charity, The Basil Samuel Charitable Trust, and with an additional grant from the Government for new technology equipment, believed to be pound;80,000.

Schools taking part will receive pound;3,400 per student from the Teacher Training Agency.

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