HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 cc69-70W
Mr. Chaytor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice she has received from Ofsted on the performance of specialist schools; and when the advice was received. [22322]

Mr. Timms

Ofsted's report, "Specialist Schools: An evaluation of progress", was published on 9 October 2001. An initial draft of the report was received within the Department for Education and Skills at the beginning of July. Ofsted's report confirms that four out of five of the schools surveyed are achieving the aims of the specialist schools programme and are making good use of the advantages it brings. The report's first main finding states that: "For these schools specialist status has often been a catalyst for innovation and helped to sustain or accelerate the momentum of school improvement." Technology, language and arts colleges are improving attainment at a faster rate than is the case nationally and in GCSE examinations in 2000 the combined average points score for each pupil for specialist subjects was higher in all four categories of specialist school than the average for all other maintained secondary schools. Ofsted also found that, with few exceptions, the community dimension was the weakest part of the school's work. However, sports colleges had responded well to this challenge and the report found that about half of the technology and language colleges visited had developed good examples of community support. We expect all specialist schools to benefit from the findings in the Ofsted report.

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