Second chance for ambitious schools

28th April 2006 at 01:00
The Education Minister is set to announce another round of successful bids under the Ambitious Excellent Schools programme.

The number was still being finalised as we went to press but is likely to be fewer than 10. Schools were not chosen from a fresh set of applications but from among the 20 unsuccessful applicants in the first round of 40 submissions. They have since been honing their bids to make them acceptable to the Scottish Executive.

The emphasis, as with the other schools, is on schools that have plans to raise their game to provide more enterprising and vocational opportunities for pupils. The carrot, as before, will be the pound;100,000 a year each school will receive for three years.

Peter Peacock, Education Minister, said he was pleased that creative and innovative ideas were still flourishing, and that schools were setting clear ambitions for themselves.

The Executive maintains it is still on course to have a total of 40 schools of ambition this year.

Mr Peacock has already looked to the programme to drive change in the system. In his famous "boldly go" speech in January, he told a conference he regretted the self-limiting ambitions of schools which did not think out of the box to consider how they could effect "transformational change".

He said then that schools now officially have licence from the Executive to decide their priorities. He urged them to be bold and to challenge conventional ways of doing things. The latest schools of ambition will be expected to join the first group and provide leadership in that direction.

Mr Peacock has to deal with sceptics, however, who believe the inspectorate is not singing from this hymn sheet, despite repeated assurances from him that it is.

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