A SCHOOL in Derwentside has started a campaign to raise £50,000 so it can achieve specialist status.

Greencroft Comprehensive School, in Annfield Plain, near Stanley, is aiming to specialise in business and enterprise.

If successful, it will concentrate on developing maths, information technology and business studies.

Headteacher Chris Espiner has written to companies and organisations in the district asking for sponsorship.

Yesterday he attended the Specialist School Trust Conference for Business and Enterprise, in Newcastle, to make contacts and strengthen the school's bid.

The Parent Teacher Association is also thinking of ideas for fundraising within the school.

Once the target figure is achieved, the school will be entitled to £100,000 of Government money and a further £90,000 a year for four years.

Deputy headteacher John Gibb said: "The idea is that the sponsor will get something out of the school for its support.

"We have got ICT facilities here and they may want to use them for training purposes.

"Students can also do work for them and we want to encourage them to work for local companies."

The 11-16 school, which serves Annfield Plain, Catchgate, Dipton, Burnhope and Lanchester, is currently working on the application. It will be submitted in 2007.

In 2001, Ofsted inspectors judged that the school was under-achieving, but two years later, it was described as 'effective and improving'.

Mr Gibb said specialist status would help it improve further and create a vital resource for the wider community.

He said: "The kids will be better educated because there will be more money for supplies and smaller class sizes.

"We will use the opportunity to work business and enterprise-type activities in to all of the subject areas where possible.

"Part of the package means that the wider community must also benefit, so we will be doing things like having after-school classes for adult learners."

About two-thirds of all secondary schools have specialist status, in subjects such as languages, technology maths, computing and sports.

The Government's aim is to ultimately make all schools specialise.

To support Greencroft Comprehensive School's bid for specialist status, contact Chris Espiner on (01207) 234466.