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Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 24 August 2010 15:44 UK
GCSE pupils' 'heartbreak' at Rochdale school demolition
(L-R) Jordan Hamer-Wynn, Louis Price, Bethany Forshaw
'It's just the best school in the country' - Heywood students

Students of a condemned Rochdale school talked of their "heartbreak" on the day they collected their GCSE results.

Heywood Community High is one of the top twenty most improved schools in the country.

Yet, despite seeing pass rates rise year on year since 2004, the school is to be demolished as part of a national shake-up in education.

Former head teacher David Yates paid tribute to staff and students saying it was "the proudest of days."

'Proud'

For six years, Heywood Community High School has seen tears of sadness slowly turn to tears of joy on GCSE results' day.

In 2004, just 10% of pupils achieved at least five A* to C grades including English and maths.

However, the school has seen a remarkable turnaround in its performance since the arrival of head teacher David Yates.

Demolition sign on gates of Heywood Community High School
Heywood Community High will be demolished

As a result, 71% of this year's GCSE students achieved the same level - up almost a fifth on last year.

But this is the last crop of Heywood's students to sit the exams, as the school shut its doors for the last time in June.

"It's a real emotional day today, the proudest of days," said Mr Yates.

"We closed as part of the authority's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and the 30th June was a really sad day.

"However, right from day one when it was earmarked for closure, we endeavoured to put every single effort into pupils' results and really they've got the rewards they deserve today."

'Heartbroken'

Today, Heywood Community High is fenced off with contractors on site ready to demolish the school buildings.

Despite a local campaign to keep it open, Rochdale Council took the decision to close the school with remaining students being transferred to either Siddal Moor Sports College or Holy Family College in Heywood.

Heywood's pupils collecting their GCSE results at the nearby primary school were quick to pay tribute to former head teacher, David Yates.

HEYWOOD COMMUNITY HIGH'S IMPROVING PERFORMANCE
Pupils with equivalent of five or more GCSEs grade C or above including English and Maths (%): *

2010: 71%
2009: 53%
2008: 39%
2007: 30%
2006: 25%
2005: 15%
2004: 10%

* Figures based on statistics supplied by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)

Heywood student Bethany Forshaw, 16, is now looking forward to a career in hairdressing after getting the required number of passes.

"I'm really chuffed," she said.

"But without Mr Yates I wouldn't have been able to. With where I was going I wouldn't have been able to go into the hairdressing class, but the guy moved in and we all went up so, yeah, top guy."

Jordan Hamer-Wynn, 16, said he was "heartbroken" at the school's closure despite getting seven A to C grades including Maths and English.

"If it wasn't for Heywood Community High, I wouldn't be nothing right now," he said.

"Because it wasn't just a school, it was a family and we all pulled together.

"It's just the best school in the country and there was nothing that could happen to make it any better apart from keeping it open which was impossible."

Louis Price, 16, who achieved ten GCSE passes, described Mr Yates as "the best teacher ever."

"Like Jordan said, [I'm] heartbroken," he said.

"I live like two seconds away from school and I can just walk to the top and it brings tears to my eyes."

Council

Sue Brown, Head of Schools at Rochdale Borough Council said the decision was made to close the school "due to falling pupil numbers."

I'm heartbroken. It wasn't just a school, it was a family and we all pulled together.
Jordan Hamer-Wynn, Heywood Community High student

"It is a priority to ensure that, where a school has been designated for closure, there is no dip in attainment and the staff and governors have worked tirelessly to ensure that the young people leaving the school in its final year have the best possible start."

"The deputy head, along with other staff, will be working at Siddal Moor, where most of the young people have been transferred to ensure continuity of education."

David Yates is now principal at Waterhead Academy in Oldham.




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