A week in the life of the Ridings school, Calderdale

29th June 2001 at 01:00
Five years after being labelled "the worst school in Britain", the Ridings this March earned Ofsted's accolade as "a good and improving school".

Key to the spectacular turnaround, says head of history Bernie Addison, is an emphasis on activities that engage pupils and encourage a sense of responsibility to the school and the community. She says "there is always something going on here", as these pictures show.

The Ridings is aiming for the Healthy Schools Award. Gardening, litter control and healthy eating initiatives are only part of the story. Other activities linked to the scheme include a virtual baby weekend, when Year 10 and 11 pupils take home pre-programmed, demanding dolls that give their adoptive parents a taste of the real joys of parenthood. One screaming sprog cried for 16 hours solid.

A Shakespeare day gave pupils the chance to try out acting, cooking, face-painting, dancing and fencing.

And a pre-election visit by Tony Blair and Estelle Morris prompted the school to hold its own election. With an 85 per cent turnout that put the UK's adult electorate to shame, pupils elected Labour. But, unlike the real thing, in the Ridings election the Monster Raving Loony Party hammered the Lib Dems and the Tories into third and fourth.

The school has a thriving buddy system and a growing sixth form, which, says Mrs Addison, promotes expectations and gives many of the younger children the kind of role models they lack outside school.

They're riding high in Halifax.

Snaps by Bernie Addison

Waaaaaahh! Tanya with her virtual baby.

Survey: on a Y10 geography field trip to Hebden Bridge.

Double trouble: two of the three weird witches from Macbeth.

En garde! A fencing class in full flow.

Where's Harold? Year 7 relive the Battle of Hastings.

Take cover: William finds shelter on a trip to Eden Camp Second World War museum.

One PM: Tony Blair looks in on an art lesson with headteacher Anna White CBE.

Ground force: Year 8 boys do a spot of gardening for the Healthy Schools Award.

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