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Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 11:20 GMT
Highly effective special schools

There is a change this year in Ofsted's annual list of 25 highly effective special schools: the inclusion for the first time of three pupil referral units.

"They all demonstrate the best in this highly diverse and important sector of education," says the chief inspector, Chris Woodhead.

Click here for the full list

The Pendlebury Centre pupil referral unit, Edgeley. LEA: Stockport

The Pendlebury Centre caters for children with a range of emotional difficulties.

When they arrive, pupils might be suffering from problems including depression, low self-esteem and school phobia, and are often on the verge of dropping out of the education system completely.

But with the help of dedicated staff at the centre, most of them are eventually re-integrated into their secondary schools.

Those that are not - some of the oldest pupils - leave the centre with GCSEs, and move on into post-16 education or training.

The unit has 40 pupils, aged between 11 and 16, and a five-strong teaching staff.

Headteacher Janice Cahill said: "When children come to us they have social anxieties of numerous kinds - they may have been bullied, they may be depressed, they may have suffered bereavement, they may have difficulties mixing with their peer group.

"What we aim to do is give pupils the same academic opportunities as they would have at their mainstream schools, while helping to address their problems, whatever they may be.

'Little bit of magic'

"I think there are three main differences between us and the schools where our pupils come from. We're not large, we haven't got that big a building to walk round, and pupils don't have as much peer group pressure.

"Pupils remain on the register at their mainstream schools, and all those at Key Stage 3 have to attend at least one session a week at their schools.

"We re-establish a pattern of attendance and achievement, and gradually get them back into mainstream education, where they are then monitored."

Mrs Cahill said she was delighted with Ofsted's commendation, but that it was difficult to identify what made the unit so special.

"There is a little bit of magic about it, it just works," she said. "We have a very dedicated, enthusiastic staff, and strong support from the local authority."

Name LEA
Ash Field School, Leicester Leicester City
Elms School, Blackpool Road Lancashire
Hedgewood School, Hayes Hillingdon
Leyland School, Nuneaton Warwickshire
Linwood School, Bournemouth Bournemouth
Lister Lane School, Bradford Bradford
Marjorie McClure School, Chislehurst Bromley
Marshfields School, Dogsthorpe Peterborough, City of
Mary Hare Grammar School, Snelsmore Common West Berkshire
Netherlands Avenue School and Community Nursery, Odsal Bradford
Newfield School, Crosby Sefton
Phil Edwards Centre PRU, Upper Norwood Croydon
Ravenscliffe High School, Halifax Calderdale
Redgate School, Mansfield Nottinghamshire
Rosehill School, St Ann's Nottingham, City of
Selly Oak Special School, Selly Oak Birmingham
Southlands School, North Shields North Tyneside
The Children’s Hospital School, Infirmary Square Leicester City
The Foreland School, Broadstairs Kent
The Pendlebury Centre PRU, St Lesmo Road Stockport
West Cumbria Learning Centre PRU, Distington Cumbria
Westlands School, Thornaby Stockton-on-Tees
Woodlands Special School, Blackpool Blackpool
Woodlawn School, Whitley Bay North Tyneside
Woolgrove School, Letchworth Hertfordshire

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Mike Baker

See also:
08 Feb 00 |  Features
Some of the best schools
08 Feb 00 |  Education
School strategies 'paying off'

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