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'This school is my inspiration, they saved me and they saved my education' - read pupils' feelings on their 'listening' school

12 October 2018

Heartwarming praise from pupils was a big factor in a Stockton-on-Tees school being held up as a shining example to others.

Image of Bishopton school pupils

Bishopton, in Billingham, has been named a nationally-recognised 'Centre of Excellence' following an assessment.

Assessors from Inclusion Quality Mark commended the Marsh House Avenue school for its listening and communication, relentless leaders and polite pupils.

But a stand out feature of their glowing report was the comments from the pupils themselves.

What did pupils say?

The school is a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) supporting pupils who don't attend mainstream schools for reasons ranging from permanent exclusions to physical and mental illness.

And pupils were full of praise for the place - below are just a few of their comments.

- 'This school is my inspiration, they saved me and saved my education.'

- 'Teachers manage to make you feel better if you're upset or worried about anything.'

- 'They saw something in me and I have changed as a person. They showed me that I can enjoy school. I have high hopes for my GCSEs now.'

- 'You can trust this staff, they believe in you.'

- 'They help you make friends and inspire you to want to be something.'

What else did assessors find?

The school is one of only 173 schools nationwide to have earned the 'Centre of Excellence' status, of which only five are PRUs.

Here are some of the assessors' findings:

- 'Leaders are relentless in pursuing their aim to move pupils from a position of vulnerability and/or crisis to one of hope, strength and success.

- 'The Headteacher, Management Board and Senior Team are inspirational in their commitment to inclusion.'

- 'Pupils appreciate the patience and respect they are shown and know that here, their voice matters. In return, they work hard and have embraced the challenges to strive for more, being ambitious and taking pride in their achievements.'

- 'Smiling staff are outside ready to greet pupils and visitors to ensure their day starts with a personal approach. Inside, this warmth and inclusivity continues with each and every member playing their part to ensure a sense of belonging pervades the calm, purposeful spaces. Relationships are positive and genuine, there is laughter and harmony, aspiration and ambition.'

- 'It was a pleasure to meet and talk to the pupils, who are polite, engaging and eager to recount their successes since joining the school; presenting as well-rounded individuals who have re-engaged with learning and are committed to doing their best; for their school, their families and for themselves.'

- 'Pupils are valued here for their uniqueness and character and are supported to see this school as a place for a fresh start, where every day offers new opportunities and new beginnings.'

What do school and council leaders think?

Headteacher, Emily Carr, said: "We are so proud of this important achievement. Inclusion is something we strongly believe in and work hard to promote. We believe that every child deserves the best education possible and we educate the 'whole' child - developing them emotionally, socially and academically.

"This award reflects the hard work of our committed body of staff, and illustrates the network of support we have from the Council, parents, carers and other external agencies to support Bishopton pupils in making fantastic progress towards their goals."

Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: "I thoroughly enjoyed reading the report, especially the comments from the pupils. They clearly think the world of their teachers and there's no greater praise than that really.

"We place so much emphasis on inclusion, and on doing everything we possibly can to ensure all of our children and young people get a good education, regardless of their circumstances. Bishopton is a marvellous example of that in practice. My thanks and congratulations go to everybody at the school - well done!"