SPECIALIST schools were launched in 1994 and are the Government's flagship policy to raise standards.
All secondary schools in England can apply for specialist status: 2,000 are expected to have adopted a specialism by 2006.
To qualify, the schools must raise pound;50,000 from the private sector (less for schools of fewer than 500 pupils) and produce a four-year plan for teaching and learning and involvement with other schools and the community. They receive a one-off pound;100,000 grant plus pound;123 per pupil for four years.
A further 217 schools received specialist status this week, taking the total up to 1,209 or 38 per cent of English secondaries. The current categories are technology, language, sports, arts, business and enterprise, engineering, mathematics and computing, and science.