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The Beacon Schools initiative is one of the many related but distinct initiatives forming part of the DfEE’s school improvement agenda. The plans for implementing the Beacon Schools initiative – as centres of excellence committed to raising standards – were announced by the then Minister for School Standards in summer 1998.
The initiative was therefore in its very early stages and the evaluation needed to reflect this in its aims and design. Moreover, a key feature of the Beacon initiative is that its success (or otherwise) is predicated not only on the capacity of Beacon Schools to deliver appropriate and effective provision but, just as crucially, on the capacity of the non-Beacon partners to translate and implement the lessons learned from Beacon provision.
The project aims were to evaluate the range and quality of Beacon School activities to support good practice; and the use made by Beacon Schools of resources.
It also looked at the perceived value of Beacon School activities to their ‘target audience’ of non-Beacon Schools, local education authorities (LEAs) and providers of teacher training; and the likelihood of Beacon School activities leading to school improvements, especially raised standards, in non-Beacon Schools.