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For advice and support schools should contact the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (Tel: 020 7802 2377 email or the Youth Sport Trust School Support Unit (Tel: 01509 226600 or email: SchoolSupportUnit@

Specialist Schools Guidance 2008

We have now published and updated the Specialist Schools Guidance for 2008. Schools will wish to be aware of contained updates on Diplomas and whole school target setting requirements detailed in Part 1 of the guidance.   Re-designation and initial applications will also now reflect the introduction of the National Challenge and details are contained in Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. The HPSS 2008 criteria (previously detailed on this page), the strategic role of all HPSS and the priority specialisms for 2008 are now contained in Part 5 of the guidance.

We would encourage all schools that have yet to be re-designated under the new system to have regard to the details in this guidance. To access the 2008 guidance please use the tab on the left hand side of this page.

What are Specialist Schools?

An introduction to the aims and background of the Specialist Schools Programme, and an outline of the characteristics specific to each of the ten specialisms. What are Specialist Schools?

High Performing Specialist Schools (HPSS) will form a crucial contribution to supporting the Children's Plan as outlined in Part 1 of this guidance. HPSS will have the responsibility of taking a more strategic community wide role using 50% of their HPSS funding to work with partners including the LA to disseminate effective practice in the school's new role.

In Spring 2007, the Department for Children Schools and Families commissioned
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to evaluate the impact of HPSS. The overarching aim of the evaluation is to further the evidence base of specific specialist schools policy strands, and to provide guidance, including examples of good practice, for all specialist schools, including those with a SEN specialism.

The interim report has just been published and can be accessed by following the link below:

HPSS Interim Evaluation Report (PDF 1.4 MB)

For an alphabetical list of all 2975 specialist schools please click here (Excel 871 KB).

For a list of all specialist schools by Goverment Office please click here (Excel 910 KB).

For a list of all SEN schools in the Programme please click here (Excel 38 KB).

For a list of all High Performing Specialist schools as at 09/08/08 please click here (Excel 104 KB).

Last update 01/07/08

Gifted and Talented HPSS option

We are inviting schools with a particular interest and expertise in Gifted and Talented education to identify G&T as a specific focus of their HPSS work. Such schools will form part of a national network of secondary G&T centres of excellence. HPSS with a G&T focus will be required to allocated £10,000 of their HPSS funding to their G&T work.
Further information is available on the Guidance 2008 page

Capital Grant Offer for Re-designating Specialist Schools

The revised versions can now be downloaded from the links below. We apologise for any inconvenience whilst revisions were being made to both the application form and guidance.

Revised Guidance (Word 93 KB)

Application Form (Word 56 KB)


All schools submitting SEF and SDP to the DCSF for re-designating purposes should email them to