Published Tuesday 24 July 2018 at 15:48
It was the perfect end of term for St Thomas’s Centre in Blackburn which has been rated “outstanding” in all areas.
The pupil referral unit, which caters for children who can’t attend mainstream school, has received a glowing report from the education watchdog Ofsted.
Inspectors who visited last month praised the Lambeth Street school’s “can do culture” and said that it was regarded as a “valuable asset” by the local authority and neighbouring mainstream schools.
This is because the head teacher and leaders at all levels are skilled in and passionate about supporting pupils with social, emotional or mental health needs.
They work in full partnership with their mainstream colleagues to provide the best opportunities for vulnerable young people to remain in education and to fulfil their aspirations. As a result, this is an exemplary and outward-looking school with outstanding capacity to improve even more.
Ofsted found that the great majority of pupils make good or better progress from low stating points and move on successfully to further education, employment or training.
The curriculum was praised for its broad range of subjects and the inspectors were impressed with the “courteous and respectful” pupils who have “outstanding” attitudes to learning.
Many pupils who had poor attendance records in their previous schools improve their attendance and punctuality due to the interventions of staff.
Senior and middle leaders have a shared vision for the school based upon the mantra: ‘Everyone succeeds. No exceptions. No excuses.’ Pupils share this sense of purpose. A number of pupils say that they ‘feel part of a family’. The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is strong.
The school’s leadership and management; the quality of teaching, learning and assessment; pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare, and outcomes for pupils were all found to be outstanding.
The report concluded:
Leaders at all levels, including the management committee, have been relentless in moving the school forward to become outstanding. The head teacher has been an inspirational figure during this process. Staff morale is extremely high.
St Thomas’s Centre has 166 pupils aged from five to 16. It provides for pupils who have social, emotional and mental health needs, many of whom have been at risk of permanent exclusion from their mainstream schools. It also caters pregnant schoolgirls and pupils with additional medical needs.
Head teacher Joanne Siddle said:
The outstanding report is a testament to all members of the St Thomas’s community. We are truly proud of this achievement and of our staff, parents, management committee – and most importantly our pupils.
It is an honour to be the head teacher and although this report is a fabulous achievement, we are determined as a school to continue to improve and provide the very best for our pupils.
Councillor Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, added:
This is a great result for the school; we always knew that it produced outstanding outcomes for pupils and does outstanding work across the town.
We are really pleased that the hard work of pupils and staff has been recognised by Ofsted in this way.