The beacon school initiative was launched in September 1998 with 75 pilot schools. It aims to raise pupil achievement and close the gap between best and worst-performing schools by identifying and disseminating successful practice.
Selection for beacon status is dependent on schools being rated as high-performers by OFSTED, or they may have performed well over a period of three or four years. They are short-listed by the Department for Education and Skills and invited to apply for beacon status. Local education authorities are also asked to nominate schools. Additional funding averages about pound;35,000 a year, usually for at least three years.
Last week Estelle Morris announced 425 new beacons which will bring the total to 1,000 - a milestone reached a year earlier than planned.