School does better

A SCHOOL for pupils who have been expelled from mainstream education has been taken off special measures after inspectors noted huge improvements in standards and attitudes.

A SCHOOL for pupils who have been expelled from mainstream education has been taken off special measures after inspectors noted huge improvements in standards and attitudes.

Staff at the Albany Centre Pupil Referral Unit in Bury St Edmunds have now pledged to build on the successful report after the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) said it no longer demonstrated any serious weaknesses.

The unit, which caters for about 30 pupils aged between 14 and 16, was placed on special measures in summer 2002 when Ofsted inspectors ruled standards of teaching needed raising.

Their report also said behaviour management must be stepped up, while a weak curriculum contributed to the pupils' underachievement.


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But after a complete change of staff, a review at the unit judged all teaching to be satisfactory, with more than a third classed as good or better.

The attitude of pupils was also labelled as a strength, with attendance and the variety offered in the curriculum both improving.

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Headteacher Lis Barker, who joined the school just before it was placed on special measures, congratulated her new team of staff on their hard work.

"We appointed a completely new staff and have improved our learning support and our teaching, and have obviously improved the students' achievements," she added.

"We have a high success rate in terms of examination achievements, with a big percentage of the students gaining GCSEs, which is what is expected from them.

"Where pupils have failed in the past and have been excluded, we start afresh and work towards their achievements. A high percentage then go on to further education and employment."

The unit will now produce an action plan and carry on working on areas for improvement. These include developing the cultural and spiritual curriculum and a continuing to raise standards and improve attendance figures.

Maggie Raney, chairman of the school's management committee, said: "Lis Barker's strong leadership and the commitment of her staff through the past months has been rewarded by the unit's removal from special measures."

Tony Lewis, portfolio holder for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: "I am very pleased that the Albany Centre has received such a positive report.

"It is great credit to the staff of the unit that they have come through such a difficult time and turned things around in such a relatively short period.

"The county council will now be working with the unit to ensure this improvement continues."

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