UNITS for pregnant teenagers and young mothers stood out as one of the few bright spots in this week's otherwise depressing report on alternative education services.
Ofsted noted that schoolgirl mothers' units were "invariably an exception" to the generally poor centres and that the education the teenagers received was good.
The news came as no surprise to teachers at the Meriton education and support centre in Bristol, which this week received visitors from the French education service.
Meriton provides full-time lessons for 27 girls aged 14 to 16 as well as part-time sixth-form lessons for a further 27 young women and a nursery for their babies.
Although the pupils' studies are usually interrupted by maternity leave, the centre has high expectations and sees its pupils gain GCSEs, AS and A-levels and a host of vocational qualifications.
Motor mechanics has proved particularly popular and several of the teenagers have been rebuilding a pick-up truck for an Open College Network qualification. The centre also has a flexible timetable to encourage creative projects. It recently abandoned the curriculum for three weeks while pupils made an 18-minute video version of Romeo and Juliet and a former animator has been helping them make a short film using a model house.
Carol Bowery, Meriton head, said: "Young mums want to be taken seriously and qualifications help that happen. But they also need a bit of care."