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In Practice - Pragmatic approach to partnership

In a refurbished, single-level, stone farmhouse in the suburbs of east Northampton are about 20 challenging teens who should by rights have been permanently excluded from school by now.

Instead, the pupils from two very different secondaries work together in a groundbreaking collaboration between Northampton Academy and neighbouring Weston Favell School.

Set up last month, the Ark Success Centre is the kind of partnership the Government has long demanded. It caters for pupils who have previously been suspended for problem behaviour.

Staffed by teachers from both schools, the pupils get literacy and numeracy tuition and build social skills. They can opt to return afterwards to their original school, to swap to the other school, or to negotiate their own, individual solution.

Peter Hollah, the Anglican Bishop who left his diocese to lead the new academy, says, "We feel we can give a degree of self-confidence that brings these teenagers back from the brink."

Northampton, a United Learning Trust academy, also opens its facilities to local football and trampolining clubs and shares subject specialities with other local schools with sixth forms.

Dr Tracey Jones, head of Weston Favell, said the collaboration had worked very positively.

"I was a bit nervous," she said. "The setting up of the academy was very acrimonious in town, but I wasn't here then. There's nothing I can do about the academy, so I may as well live with it and make the most of it."

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