Region's schools win special status

SCHOOLS in Suffolk and Essex are celebrating after winning prestigious specialist status or being named among the pioneers of a new scheme.The Government yesterday announced 245 more specialist schools nationwide from September, as well as revealing the first 103 schools to take part in the Leading Edge Partnerships – a resource-sharing scheme.

By Roddy Ashworth

SCHOOLS in Suffolk and Essex are celebrating after winning prestigious specialist status or being named among the pioneers of a new scheme.

The Government yesterday announced 245 more specialist schools nationwide from September, as well as revealing the first 103 schools to take part in the Leading Edge Partnerships – a resource-sharing scheme.

Thurleston High School in Ipswich and Kesgrave High have both been granted specialist status in Suffolk.


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Eleven Essex schools also learned they had won specialist status, including The Plume School in Maldon (arts), Chelmer Valley High School in Chelmsford (engineering), The Sandon School in Chelmsford (mathematics and computing) and the St John Payne Catholic Comprehensive School in Chelmsford (technology).

Specialist schools receive a one-off capital grant of £100,000 and £123 per pupil recurrent funding initially for 4 years.

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Thurleston headteacher Mike Everett was thrilled after the hard work of the bidding process received the ultimate reward - being named a science college.

He said: "We're absolutely delighted. It's something that hasn't come as a complete surprise because we put together such a good bid."

Mr Everett said the extra investment would be vital in buying the best possible equipment for the school's pupils.

Meanwhile, Beacon Hill special school and Northgate, both in Ipswich, and Farlingaye High, in Woodbridge, are among the first in the country to be part of the new Leading Edge Partnership.

The partnership involves a number of schools who have agreed to work together to raise standards by sharing practice and developing new and different approaches to teaching and learning.

Partnerships will collaborate to find solutions for the most critical learning challenges facing pupils and teachers, such as underachievement of boys.

Northgate headteacher Neil Watts said: "If Leading Edge is as good as Beacon School status it will be one of the most positive things we are involved with."

Three schools in Essex are among those also involved in Leading Edge.

Philip Morant School and College, in Rembrandt Way, Colchester, has developed a learning centre with the co-operation of Microsoft, educational IT specialist Ramesys and Hewlett-Packard.

After winning the special status, it will receive an extra £60,000 per year for three years to help it continue its progress.

Philip Morant headteacher, Russell Moon, said: "Being a Leading Edge school enables us to further develop our long-term partnership with world leading organisations, and to continue to find new and exciting ways of providing the best education for every student.

"Our bid had to show that we are able to further develop best practice and innovation for the benefit of young people.

"Our Learning Centre, which uses the best technology from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Ramesys, has already shown that we can give teachers time for standards and to focus on what really matters – quality teaching and quality learning."

He added the school would now be developing and interactive online curriculum, a computerised administration system and online collaborative communities to help students work together.

Other Leading Edge schools in Essex are King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, and Saffron Walden County High School.

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