New specialist Burnley school now up and running

Chairman of Governors Steve Wilson with headteacher Susannah Berry
Chairman of Governors Steve Wilson with headteacher Susannah Berry

A new specialist Burnley school is now delivering the alternative provision which was requested by the headteachers of other schools in the area.

The Heights Burnley, on Burleigh Street, opened its doors earlier this month, for five to 16-year-olds in Burnley and the surrounding area who struggle in mainstream schools.

Ebony Norwood in the chair in the salon with teacher Michelle Hill and student Emily Robinson

Ebony Norwood in the chair in the salon with teacher Michelle Hill and student Emily Robinson

As well as providing GCSEs, they also have a salon on site for their hairdressing students, they offer a BTEC in hospitality and catering as well as BTECs in sport, health and social care, construction and more.

The free school cost £5.4m. to build, from central government funds, and can hold 150 students. There are currently 44 in the school.

The Heights Burnley is part of the not-for-profit Education Partnership Trust (EPT) which is also responsible for The Heights Blackburn, Pleckgate High School, which was recently judged as Outstanding by Ofsted, and Coal Clough Academy in Burnley, among others.

Headteacher Susannah Berry, said: “We cater for students who have struggled in mainstream schools for a variety of reasons. The school was built in response to demand from the secondary school heads in Burnley who felt they needed this provision.

“We have the core curriculum subjects such as English, maths and science and, as most schools are Progress 8 based around eight core subjects, we are Progress 7, based on seven core qualifications as we believe that’s achievable for the students here.

“We also offer vocational qualifications and provide a more work-based environment, which is why we have our state-of-the-art salon and construction rooms, among other equipment here.

“We cater for the individual needs of students. For example, one student wants to be a mechanic on specialised machines. That isn’t taught in schools so we have organised work experience for him so he can focus on what he wants to do but he will also takes other qualifications in case he changes his mind later in his life.

“We are passionate about making a difference, having an impact, and delivering high quality teaching. Pupils are taught in small groups, which allows us to provide individual packages and support.

“For me, it’s an exciting challenge. I worked in a secondary school in Blackburn for 13 years and then I was part of the leadership team at Olive School in Blackburn for four years. This is an exciting time for us, in a new school, reaching out to help students who need something different.”

Chairman of Governors Steve Wilson, who is Head of Pendle Vale College, said: “This is a great alternative provision for students who are not engaging in school and need a more bespoke package.

“The Heights Burnley will complement the high quality provision offered by Coal Clough Academy to ensure we are able to support the different needs of young people and prepare them for a successful transition post-16.”