Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year

18th June 2010 at 01:00

Winner: St Christopher's School, Wrexham, North Wales

St Christopher's, the largest special school in Wales, has been doing pioneering work supporting pupils with learning difficulties - not only on its site, but also in mainstream schools.

Among its inclusion projects is a scheme in which St Christopher's pupils go on joint college placements with young people from other schools. It also runs the Unlocking Potential Programme, which sends its staff to work with teachers and pupils in mainstream schools, especially children who have behavioural and emotional difficulties. Its work has been recognised by the inspectorate Estyn and by the Welsh Assembly government, which has featured the school in its guidance on subjects such as pupil voice.

In addition, St Christopher's has taken an entrepreneurial approach to environmentalism. Pupils run their own Millennium Eco Centre, which has more than 16,000 visitors per year, as well as a Fairtrade shop, a hair and beauty salon, an environmental task force, a furniture exchange and a "recycle a bicycle" scheme.

The school has also fostered strong global links, using its website to share its curriculum materials with teachers in South Africa and beyond.

Judges' verdict: The panel said they could sense the ambition the school has for every one of its pupils. It provides a really wide range of activities, undertakes lots of collaborative work and has truly global aspirations with projects under way in South Africa, Nigeria and right across Europe.

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