THIS week, David Blunkett announced that another 38 schools are to gain beacon status to disseminate good practice in the teaching of writing. The latest recruits to the scheme, which started in 1998, are all primaries and will each receive around pound;35,000 a year to share the secret of their success over three years. The pound;18 million beacon initiative now involves 550 schools, but this figure is expected to rise to 1,000 in the next two years. The TES spoke to some of those chosen.
Pam Clements, acting head-teacher at Hagley first school, Stourbridge, West Midlands: "It's an accolade our literacy co-
ordinator who has worked tirelessly, and a great boost for the staff. It is an acknowledgement of the good standards we achieve and the hard work put in.
"We are looking forward to building partnerships and collaborating with other schools. The secret of our success is that we ensure children are reading and writing daily and we have very enthusiastic teachers who offer a variety of structured lessons to keep pupils interested."
Elizabeth Henderson, head-teacher, Oldfield primary, Berkshire: "It pays tribute to my colleagues and is an appropriate recognition of their hard work and commitment to the pupils. I am fortunate to have such a hard-working professional team, supportive governors and parents - and, most important of all, great kids.
"Oldfield has been chosen because it has areas of expertise that others might find useful. We use the cursive style of writing which is best-described as old-fashioned joined-up writing. Wealso use the multi-sensory approach with dyslexic children."
Dilys Cranstone, headteacher, Cantrell primary, Nottingham: "I had my deputy check with the DFEE that it wasn't a wind-up. We are in an education action zone and I think the partnership we have with others has got something to do with our success.
"My deputy and I work closely together to analyse all the data we have on our pupils and all our staff are continually looking for new ways to take things forward. We already work in partnership with other schools but the money we get is going to help to share our knowledge further. The kudos is wonderful and it is nice for parents and the children to feel that they are part of a successful school."
Diane Gare, head, Binfield CoE primary, Bracknell Forest, Berkshire: "The letter inviting us to become a beacon school left us amazed. It is one of the things I have dreamed of for the school. We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with other schools. I am sure we will be able to learn a lot from our partnership school while sharing what works for us."
Philip Elgar, headteacher, Trent CofE primary, Barnet, Hertfordshire: "It's lovely to be recognised but the whole point of this is about mutually supporting each other.
"We get our best ideas from other schools and hopefully we can share ours with other schools and our colleagues. We are all pleased that success is being recognised but are also a little cautious about what this means for us in the future.However, we are very much looking forward to it."