Catering for pupils' different aptitudes: Specialisation: The White Paper on education proposes one of the biggest transfers of responsibility since the 1944 Act

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The Independent Online
RATHER than step backwards to re-introduction of 11-plus selection, the Government advocates that more schools specialise in subjects such as technology, music, modern languages or science.

Diversity will also be enhanced by encouraging the creation of new schools. 'Patterns of schools that reflect the priorities of local authority planners should be complemented or replaced by schools that reflect more widely the wishes and aspirations of parents,' the White Paper says. It adds: 'Such specialisation does not mean selection, which implies choice by the school; instead it means increased choice for parents and pupils. The greater the choice, the greater the opportunity for children to go to schools which cater for their particular interests and aptitudes.'

Ministers hope that some schools will extend the day, or year, to offer extra options and in-depth study of specialist subject areas. They argue that high quality teachers will be attracted to innovative 'specialist' schools - and they expect that the initiative will come from the school itself.

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, cited the example of schools which are proposing to teach some subjects bilingually - business studies in French and English, for example.

Specialisation in technology is already being encouraged, by the Technology Schools Initiative. It is offering 100 schools around pounds 250,000 each this year to focus on technology teaching, and to break down the divide between academic and vocational courses.

That initiative will bring about a new group of Technology Colleges - schools which concentrate on science and technology, and develop links with local employers. They will have opted out, and will receive extra funds from the Secretary of State to match sponsorship from business.

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