The voluntary-aided, Roman Catholic school for girls in Crescent Road will now have Business and Enterprise Specialist School status after a year-long application process was successful.
Monday’s announcement means Ursuline joins Rutlish, Raynes Park High and Bishopsford as the borough’s specialist schools.
In reality, this means that the school will qualify for substantial additional funding of over £400,000 over the next four years from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and £50,000 from their sponsors HSBC and Oracle. This will provide an ICT suite for the Mathematics department, a minimum of one computer in every classroom and support for staff in developing links with local primary feeder schools, secondary schools and the business community.
Specialist status enables a school to extend the range of opportunities available to students which best meet their needs and interests. Exam results show that specialist schools do better on average than non-specialists – in 2004, 56% of pupils in specialist schools achieved five good grades at GCSE compared to 46% in non-specialists. At present the Ursuline achives 73% A*-C and it aims to raise this to 90% over the next four years.
Julia Waters, Head teacher at Ursuline said:
‘This is fantastic news for the school. I am delighted that at the end of my first full year as head teacher, we have achieved specialist status today. We see it as the next step in the school’s development. It has been a real joint effort between parents, pupils and teachers. The extra money will give students the fullest oportunity to achive their ambitions. But we’re also really pleased that we’re working even closer with our community and with local business. This will go on giving a real boost to the whole school.’
Congratulating the latest schools to join the programme, Jacqui Smith, Minister for Schools said:
‘I am delighted that nearly 200 schools have been successful in achieving specialist status and welcome the growing number of LEAs in which all of their schools have at least one specialism. Specialism continues to be a catalyst for school improvement, not just in the specialist subject, but in all areas. Specialist schools have already shown how their networks and commitment to collaboration can lead to better standards all round.’
Notes to editors
· Specialist schools are required to raise £50,000 of private sector sponsorship and submit a bid to the Secretary of State showing how, if designated, they will a) raise their standards overall and b) increase ach