Sports colleges were first devised in the Tory era but have rapidly moved up the political agenda as part of the specialist school movement. In the north-east, Benfield is joined by one modern language college and two which focus on technology and science. Other sports colleges are in the pipeline.
Steve Grainger, managing director of the Lottery-funded Youth Sport Trust, says each sports school has a different emphasis but all have to enhance the curriculum for all pupils, act as a hub for sports development, and support talented performers.
"The first 11 schools involved reported increases in the percentage gaining A-C awards in GCSEs after their first year. I think it's down to increased motivatin, a raised profile and kids feeling better about themselves. In the years to come, the more and better physical education and increased sports opportunities we can give, the higher the chances of achieving academically," he says.
Not every school could become a sports college but Mr Grainger believes one in every local authority would be enough to make a difference to PE and sport as models of good practice. "They would be a powerful lobby group," he says.
In Scotland, only Bellahouston Academy, Glasgow, has been identified as a sports academy, although its funding and aims differ from practice south of the border. It takes pupils from around the city, aiming to develop talents in sport.