The future of a Lancaster school placed in special measures last year is looking bright thanks to the hard work of staff and pupils alike.
Chadwick High, formerly known as the Chadwick Centre, has been given a seal of approval following a positive Ofsted monitoring report.
And with building work taking place to transform the school buildings, new head Christine Mitchell is confident things are on the up for the Skerton school.
Mrs Mitchell took over at the helm of the school on July 1 last year.
She was immediately faced with the challenge of helping to bring the school out of special measures.
The 72-place facility provides education for 11 to 16-year-olds who are unable to access mainstream education.
This includes those who have been permanently excluded from their school and those with a consultant’s medical referral.
Behavioural or medical respite places can also be commissioned by mainstream education providers.
The school works closely with mainstream schools, the local authority and other external agencies to provide a personalised curriculum which aims to equip pupils with the academic and vocational qualifications and skills which will enable them to make smooth transitions back to mainstream education or on to further education, employment or training.
Typically some of the pupils have experienced a disruptive educational experience in mainstream and the school aims to provide them with the stability they need to re-engage with their learning.
There are eight classes of students, all working towards GCSEs or Level 1 and 2 qualifications such as BTECs in construction, hair & beauty and motor mechanics.
Mrs Mitchell said: “The plan is for the children to leave here with useful and valuable qualifications for their next step.
“Just because they are here doesn’t mean they are not able to achieve.
“It’s about having high aspirations for them.”
The school is housed in two buildings in the grounds of the former Skerton High School, and is currently undergoing a series of building alterations to improve the facilities available.
This includes a building reorganisation, new entrances and new design technology classrooms.
The next phase is to have a canteen on site.
The school currently has 30 members of staff, made up of teachers, learning support and operational staff.
Chadwick High operates a large programme of extra-curricular activities such as football, table tennis, hair & beauty, gardening, badminton and boxing – thanks to an arrangement with Coastal Gym in Morecambe.
The school also has a Princes’s Trust scheme running as part of the curriculum, and in addition is hoping to get some of the Year 10 pupils into the community on work experience.
To encourage the students, it operates a system of rewards based on merits given for good behaviour.
As a result, pupils enjoyed a Christmas lunch, and there will be a visit to Brathay Hall at Easter.
The youngsters also take part in charity events, having previously raised money for Cash for Kids and Macmillan, and they will be taking part in a rowing event for Sport Relief.
Chadwick High underwent its first monitoring visit in November after the school was put into special measures at the end of April 2015.
Ofsted inspector Drew Crawshaw found that the school’s leaders and managers were taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.
He said: “Under the strong leadership of the new headteacher the school has started to move in the right direction.”
He added that safeguardian measures have been strengthened, there is a strong and clear vision for the school’s future, and leaders have placed a high priority on ensuring that teachers and teaching assistants have the skills necessary to meet pupils’ specific needs.
“The first visit was very positive,” said Mrs Mitchell. “We will probably have termly visits until the inspector decides to convert the monitoring to a full Ofsted inspection.
“This should take 12 to 18 months. The report was very pleasing. The staff and pupils have been fantastic.”
Mrs Mitchell has a background in similar schools, having joined Chadwick High from Larches House pupil referral unit in Preston.
Before that, she was at Clitheroe Grammar School.
She now hopes to show the local community the positive aspects of life at Chadwick High, particularly following the successful monitoring report.
She said: “We have previously held parents’ afternoons to engage parents in the community, and once the building work is finished, the plan is to have an open afternoon.
“The local community doesn’t know too much about us, and we want the people of Skerton to see the good work that is going on here.”