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The ‘one of a kind school’ that brings joy to learning

A 'one of a kind' school in Oldham has been re-defining how to help children with social, emotional and mental health needs
The Springboard project

A one-of-a-kind school in Oldham designed for pupils with ‘turbulent histories’ has been praised by Ofsted as a ‘a happy place in which to learn’.

The Springboard Project on Phoenix Street provides support and care for kids with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) who’ve had a difficult time with schooling.

The Springboard Project

Headteacher Andy Howard said he was ‘pleased’ about the ‘Good’ rating awarded by Ofsted. He claimed the school, which caters to 14-19 year-olds, was ‘unique across the whole of Greater Manchester’.

Howard said: “Young people are falling out of school because of trauma and mental health needs.

“There’s a lot of negative connotations around SEMH. People think we look after ‘naughty boys’ and take the ones nobody else will deal with because of their behaviour.

“But they’re acting like that because the world around them causes them trauma and they don’t know how to do it differently. We need a whole new view of education for these young people.”

The school works with families, social workers and the teens and provides support both in school and at home.

How Project Pantry is helping students

The school operates ‘Project Pantry’ where pupils can collect food and essentials they’re missing and has pitched together several to buy families crucial furniture like beds and wardrobes.

In a report written by inspector Elizabeth Stevens, Ofsted praised the school’s ‘personal development’ program as ‘exceptional’, teaching pupils ‘key life skills’ as well as helping them achieve their qualifications.

The Springboard Project’s Ofsted report

Ofsted inspector Elizabeth Stevens wrote in the report that the school was ‘ambitious’ for its pupils and that there were ‘highly respectful relationships’ between staff and pupils.

Pupils are offered extracurricular activities like hiking, computing and visiting museums, the report said, and also received support learning vital skills such as money management.

“As a result, pupils are becoming more prepared for life in modern Britain,” the report read.

The school, which opened in 2019, has won several awards for its ‘groundbreaking’ approach to educating young people.

Howard said: “There are young people who before coming to us have had two or three years of virtually no education and no attendance at school, who are now coming in on a daily basis and are well on their way to getting qualifications.”

The school is due to become one of the first places to trial Andy Burnham’s Manchester Baccalaureate.

“Burnham wants a qualification that works for all young people,” Howard said.

“We’ll show that the MBAC does literally mean all people – including those who have lost out or were disregarded in the past.”

You can find out more about The Springboard Project by clicking here

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