Eighteen secondary schools are to receive pound;5,000 each to become ambassadors for gifted and talented pupils.
The money will be used to boost opportunities for the most able and talented 5 per cent. The schools, mainly with leading edge and beacon status, will also be expected to develop programmes and involve neighbouring schools in the one-year project.
The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, based at Warwick university, has provided the money and will evaluate schemes which could include providing equipment, subject conferences and financial support for pupils doing extra-curricular activities and teacher training.
Denise Davies, deputy head of St Martin-in-the-Fields high, south London, said her girls' school will use most of its pound;5,000 to improve its stage and develop performing arts.
Claire Martin is one of 10,000 pupils who are members of the academy. She has recently had drama lessons with the Royal Shakespeare Company paid for by her school, Birchwood community high, in Warrington, Cheshire, which will become one of the ambassador schools. "It really inspired me," said Claire, 14.