Academy giving students from Burnley and Pendle unique learning experience

Head girl Sophie Thompson(right) with fellow student Shantana Duffy
Head girl Sophie Thompson(right) with fellow student Shantana Duffy
Share this article

A Burnley school, that has gone from strength to strength, is giving its students a unique learning experience.

The newly opened LINK room at Coal Clough Academy is a hit with students, parents and staff alike.

Year eight Angel McMillan gets stuck into a classic novel

Year eight Angel McMillan gets stuck into a classic novel

Described as ‘a targeted intervention classroom with a nurturing environment" this is an idea unique to Coal Clough Academy.

LINK Lead Gemma Foster said the school wanted a room to link education, nurturing and SEND (Special Educational Needs).

She said: “It was a former classroom but we have transformed it so, when students aren’t coping in class, it’s a room they can go to where they can still gain the skills and knowledge they need while being supported and monitored.

“They can gain individual or group support to help to overcome the barriers they are facing.

Head boy Colby Ridge (left) and Bailey Fox work with Lego

Head boy Colby Ridge (left) and Bailey Fox work with Lego

“The room has four different learning environments, one to to deal with social and emotional problems as well as a numeracy and literacy section alongside a sensory part.

“The LINK interventions include a Lego Group which is about problem solving, sustaining interaction and improves motivation.

“Through play and craft we will raise self-esteem, there is drawing and talking group , handwriting, phonics, dyslexia support, anger management, spelling, social skills and more.

“It means we are looking at the individual needs of students and we can work with them in a more comfortable environment out of the classroom."

Coal Clough Academy LINK staff.

Coal Clough Academy LINK staff.

The Academy has undergone a transformation in recent years from Ofsted saying the school had "serious weaknesses" in 2015 to being graded "good" in their June Ofsted report, earning high praise from the inspectors.

Headteacher Holly Clarke and her staff have overseen the changes and the LINK room is an initiative which may be brought out in all Education Partnership Trust schools, of which Coal Clough is a member. The school takes in students from 22 schools around the Burnley and Pendle area and beyond.

Mrs Clarke said: “The majority of our students have been excluded from other schools and we also offer special support to students who have additional medical needs.

“We are proud of our achievements over the last few years, we have broken down barriers to learning and it’s proving a success.

“There is only meant to be 113 places for Years 7-11 but we have 162 students at the moment who are all benefiting from being here.

“We have seen transformations in students who come here, they had struggled in mainstream schools for whatever reasons but leave us with GCSEs, including English and Maths, or go into college or onto apprenticeships, something that wasn’t always happening previously.”

Mrs Clarke added that the June Ofsted praised the hard work and dedication of the staff, parents and students at Coal Clough Academy but she stressed they want to keep improving and keep offering the best education possible for the students, adding: "

“We are always looking at new, innovative ideas to help these students and make sure they get the best out of school life and the LINK room is one of these.

“We want to cut down any barriers they have faced and help them with their problems so they can gain good, strong qualifications.

“We obviously see alternative provision as a positive – and we want others to as well.”