Schools in the Spotlight: Castle Hill, Newsome
Sep 9 2008 by Hazel Ettienne, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
BEACON SHINES ON
TWO years after students first entered Castle Hill School at Newsome it has become a beacon for all the community.
Its strong links with local schools and vision to ensure every child gets a positive learning experience, whatever their needs, has ensured this new school for children with a range of complex learning difficulties has had an excellent start and is looking forwards to a successful future.
Indeed, Government inspectors from Ofsted, who visited in May, were so impressed that they rated it outstanding in all categories.
The quality of education and learning, teaching provision and leadership and management of head teacher Gill Robinson and her team were all singled out for praise.
“We thought we were doing well, but we didn’t know if other people would think so,” she said.
“It is difficult to judge attainment by out students compared to other schools. There is a benchmark, but it fluctuates because our children have a range of complex medical conditions.”
Judith Waddington, chairman of the school’s governors, said Ms Robinson’s vision was instrumental in the school’s success.
“It is very much an ethos of the school that everyone is seen as having the right to learn whatever their abilities,” said Ms Waddington.
“Gill’s exceptional vision and determination is a driving force throughout the school.”
Castle Hill School opened in September, 2006, and is for pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties.
The purpose-built building received a Blue Plaque for Architectural Design from Huddersfield Civic Society and an award from Kirklees Council for outstanding achievement in community and outreach work.
Its support staff also received an award from Kirklees Council.
There have of course been hiccoughs along the way which Ms Robinson talks about honestly and openly.
Bringing together two schools – Highfields at Edgerton and Turnshaws at Kirkburton – on one site was bound to have its doubters and people worried about change.
But concerns were met head-on and dealt with swiftly and with a positive outcome.
Children and staff moved from community home-type schools to a sprawling building.
There was a new head and two groups of staff, children and parents working together and learning about each other.
The new building gives students the opportunity to walk around freely, with some walking around on their own for the first time.
The school’s outreach work and links with the local community are something of which it is rightly proud.
The aim is to give students from Castle Hill the chance to develop skills in another setting or gain experiences which the school cannot offer.
It also aims to have children from other schools using its facilities.
To this effect three children in the school’s foundation stage are taking part in a partnership with mainstream schools and are dually placed at Castle Hill and two other schools.
This gives them the chance to benefit from a more structured schooling environment in the morning and Castle Hill’s excellent facilities including hydrotherapy pool, sensory room and other facilities in the afternoon.