Two schools, one result: outstanding success

24th November 2006 at 00:00
Headteacher Lesley Underhill said one of the secrets of her school's success was the combination of a house and form tutor system, which ensured none of the 1,454 pupils fell through the net.

The Ecclesbourne school was listed as outstanding for the third time in Ofsted's annual report.

Mrs Underhill said: "What we try to get over to the students is that it is all about teamwork. We get outstanding exam results, but that is only part of it. To us it is the development of the whole child."

Last year 85 per cent of pupils got at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C.

The average A-level point score per student was 35.6.

But, they also know how to have fun. Last week, pupils and staff dressed up for Children in Need - a photo of Mrs Underhill as Dennis the Menace is on Ecclesbourne's website - and raised an estimated pound;3,200.

Central Lancaster high also had cause for celebration. Seven years ago, Oftsed said the school had serious weaknesses. Earlier this year, it was named outstanding.

The school operates in a deprived area and competes for pupils against two grammar schools and two church schools, so it is a measure of its success that it is proportionately the district's most heavily over-subscribed school. The roll has risen from 579 in 2001 to 650 today.

Jon Wright, headteacher, took over in 2001 and set about re-motivating demoralised staff who had been left smarting by the serious weakness label.

He also worked on the principle that all staff, from the head to the cleaners, played equally important parts in the children's education.

Pupils got a role in running the school. Last week they were responsible for reviewing its anti-bullying policy.

Central Lancaster became an extended schools pilot, got an arts specialism and had a royal visit. Its reputation blossomed, and soon so did its results.

Mr Wright said: "The school had, because of the selective cream-off, always struggled with GCSE A* to C grades and we were striving in 2001 to get above the 40 per cent ceiling. 2006 was the third year out of four to get above 53 per cent."

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