Schools enjoy specialist status

FIVE East Anglian schools have been handed coveted specialist status by the Government.St Benedict's Upper School in Bury St Edmunds has been designated a specialist school in mathematics and computing and nearby King Edward VI Upper School has been made a specialist sports college.

FIVE East Anglian schools have been handed coveted specialist status by the Government.

St Benedict's Upper School in Bury St Edmunds has been designated a specialist school in mathematics and computing and nearby King Edward VI Upper School has been made a specialist sports college.

Thurston Community College, Hadleigh High School and Tabor High School in Braintree are both to become specialist science centres.

They were among the latest group of schools to be handed specialist status by Education Secretary Charles Clarke yesterday and heads at all were delighted with the moves, which they said hailed a new era in educational excellence.


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Paul Rossi, head at St Benedict's, said the school began its campaign to gain recognition as a specialist school in September 2002.

He said: "We chose mathematics and computing because, first these are key to skills required by everyone and second because every curriculum area will be able to improve teaching and learning through the use of modern technology."

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To qualify the school had to raise £50,000 in sponsorship - £15,000 was raised by students and parents through fundraising with the rest coming from local businesses and trusts.

Mr Rossi stressed: "The way the students got behind us was one of the highs of the whole process. For a school of 550 students to raise £15,000 in six months was a tremendous achievement."

He said the school would now receive £100,000 to add to the £50,000 sponsorship to buy equipment and an extra £70,000 per year for the next four years will come from the Government to fund extra staffing and training.

The head said the new designation was excellent news for the school: "We will now be able to afford considerable extra resources. Our maths department is one of our most successful and we went for the mathematics and computing status because we consider the two to be some of the most essential skills for all pupils."

Geoff Barton, head at King Edward, said the designation of specialist sports college was "wonderful news".

He said: "It's good for the students and the whole community of Bury. As a specialist sports college we will give special emphasis to healthy lifestyles, fitness, teamwork and leadership. We will provide new facilities for sport and leisure and aim to shape the future of the next generation.

"I would like to thank the staff, students, our loyal parents, and many sponsors, all of whom helped us raise £59,000 to make this dream a reality."

Graham Shorter, chairman of the school's governors, said: "This is a really exciting development and reflects our determined drive for excellence."

Tabor High School, which achieved Beacon school status in 2000 and caters for more than 1,000 pupils, will also become a science centre.

It plans to increase its Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 performance in ICT and pupil self-assessment, record lesson progress on DVD and introduce a software package to aid pupil achievement.

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