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Medway schools win specialist status

Date: 30/01/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

Two Medway schools have been awarded specialist status by the Dept. for Children, Schools and Families (DfCSF) – including the first Special Educational Needs (SEN) school in Medway to achieve this status. Abbey Court Community Special School in Strood and Walderslade Girls’ School in Chatham are among the new specialist schools nationwide announced by the DfCSF. Abbey Court’s specialism is Cognition and Learning, one of four SEN categories. Winning specialist status means it can now implement an action plan including offering training and support to mainstream schools; loaning resources such as specialist software to its pupils’ parents; and improved local work experience opportunities for its students. Head Teacher Karen Joy said: “This is a tremendous boost for the school and our 130 pupils. It will open up all kinds of opportunities that will not only benefit everyone at Abbey Court, but also other schools, parents and local businesses. It was hard work to put together our bid, but it was well worth it in the end.” From the 1 September 2008, Walderslade Girls’ will be a combined specialist school focusing on both the Humanities and the Arts [see separate release]. Head Teacher Pamela Conibeer said: “I am very pleased with the outcome of what was a rigorous assessment process. This recognised the particular strengths the school has in English, religious studies and the creative and performing arts, which are its chosen target-setting subjects.“ Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Les Wicks, said: “It’s good to see two more Medway schools have become specialist. It means that we have more to offer our students, and that’s good. Well done to everybody involved.” The council’s Director of Children’s Services Rose Collinson also welcomed the news. “This is a great and well-deserved outcome for both schools and I’m very proud of them,” she said. The Specialist Schools Programme helps schools, in partnership with private sector sponsors and supported by additional Government funding, to establish distinctive identities through their chosen specialisms and achieve their targets to raise standards. Any maintained secondary school in England can apply for specialist status in one of ten specialisms: Arts, Business & Enterprise, Engineering, Humanities, Languages, Mathematics & Computing, Music, Science, Sports And Technology. Schools can also combine any two specialisms. Special schools can apply for an SEN specialism in one of the four areas of the SEN Code of Practice. For more info, go to www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk