Referral unit wins top praise

Ceri Williams

When headteacher Lynda Gwyther tells her charges at Moat House pupil-referral unit that they could be brain surgeons if they put their minds to it, she isn't joking.

Her single-mindedness was praised by inspectors who gave the school an excellent report, and the testimony of her pupils speaks volumes. The unit, which takes on pregnant schoolgirls and teenage mothers, has seen its former pupils go on to train as a chartered accountant and get jobs in computing.

Teenage mother Hayley said Moat House in Stockport, Cheshire, has changed her life. Instead of leaving mainstream school at 16 with no qualifications, she has just completed six GCSEs and managed to ensure her daughter Kelsey, one, is well looked after.

The unit, which has a cr che, was described by the Office for Standards in Education as "excellent", and there was praise for its teaching, management, leadership and care for pupils and their babies.

Hayley, 15, said: "I used to get Es and Fs but now my grades are Cs. A few years ago I didn't have many ambitions - now I would like to work as a childminder or teach kids under 10. My baby loves it because she mixes with the other babies."

Fellow student Emma, 15, has just taken six GCSEs while looking after her son Lewis, one. "I used to be off school a couple of days a week, but now I like the teachers. I am going to study hairdressing in September."

The OFSTED report said many of the girls arrived with negative attitudes to schooling. "By the time they leave they have invariably developed a sense of responsibility for themselves and their babies."

Mrs Gwyther said: "We tell them if they want to be brain surgeons then they can."

One pupil, who had missed a lot of schooling, got nine GCSEs and is now training to be a chartered accountant. "She probably would have got a job in a chip shop before she came here," she said.

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Ceri Williams

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