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Beacon schools

The Beacon Schools programme

The Beacon Schools programme as a central government funded programme was phased out by August 2005 and as a result, there will not be any further designations or renewals of contracts in the future.

The Beacon Schools programme was established in 1998 and all types and phases of state maintained schools were included. It identified high performing schools across England and was designed to build partnerships between these schools and represent examples of successful practice, with a view to sharing and spreading that effective practice to other schools to raise standards in pupil attainment.

Strong commitment has been exhibited by all schools that participated in the programme. Their dedicated efforts and determination have contributed to improving the standards of teaching and learning of their local communities. It is appreciated that one of the primary ways this was achieved was by collectively sharing and spreading the effective practice that they themselves had achieved as successful schools.

For secondary schools the Leading Edge Partnership programme builds on the success and knowledge about collaborative practice gained from the Beacon Schools programme. It supports groups of secondary schools, including special schools, to work together to tackle some of the most intractable barriers to raising standards. Schools within these partnerships are committed to working collaboratively to design, develop, test and share innovative ideas to raise standards of teaching and learning where improvement is most urgently needed.

At the primary level, Primary Strategy Learning Networks (PSLNs) are being established to help schools work together to raise further the standards their pupils attain in literacy and mathematics and to increase schools’ capacity to deliver a broad and rich curriculum. Groups of primary schools establish themselves as a network with a particular learning focus to help to raise standards of attainment. They receive, via Local Authorities, funding from DfES to help plan and establish their networks. Local Authorities play a key role in determining criteria, evaluating action plans, identifying support for networks and directing funding, based on their knowledge of local context and priorities. This initiative was announced in 2004 and the first networks are now agreeing plans with their LAs and planning network activity. The long-term aim is that all primary schools should be part of an effective learning network; the vast majority should be in that position by 2008.