A SCHOOL which was classed as “failing” is celebrating today after a remarkable turnaround.
Rawthorpe High School is one of two Huddersfield schools delighted by news today they have achieved specialist status in the arts.
Rawthorpe, which was once considered a failing school and which spent more than two years in special measures, and Colne Valley are among 12 schools in the Yorkshire and Humber region to have achieved the accolade.
Schools minister Andrew Adonis, who made the announcement, praised all the schools involved and their achievements which have led to significant improvement in standards and valuable community outreach facilities.
Rawthorpe head teacher Joan Young and her team were delighted to receive the accolade of specialist status for the arts.
She said: “We were delighted to be the first Kirklees high school to achieve Artsmark Gold last year. To receive specialist status on only our first application is a further recognition by the government of the high standards of provision in art, music and drama at Rawthorpe.”
Helen Turnbull, head of the arts faculty, said: “Everyone has been behind us in our bid for Specialist Status, but this nomination shows that standards at Rawthorpe are not restricted to one area.
An Ofsted report from government inspectors also praised the self-esteem and confidence which the arts teaching at the school gave to students.
The school will have its first chance to celebrate its latest honour with parents, partner schools and sponsors at its Summer Concert next Tuesday.
Specialist Status is intended to raise attainment across the whole school, not only in the specialist area.
The bid brings two grants – one to improve facilities, the other to support the work of the lead departments in sharing good practice and raising standards
Mrs Young said the £100,000 capital grant would go towards providing a state-of-the-art sound recording studio, a fully-equipped drama studio, a photo-editing suite and software for students to develop skills in music technology, sound and video recording and image manipulation. This should be up and running in September.
The £200,000 annual grant, to be paid over a four year period, will ensure that every child will have the opportunity to experience instrumental tuition free of charge.
This will be rolled out initially across the high school and then to partner schools.
The school is also looking forward to working with BBC Radio Leeds to develop sound recording and reporting skills with the long-term aim of having a 'Radio Rawthorpe'.
Another important feature of specialist status is the community bid. The award will help fund pilot projects in confidence-building and family courses in video and digital photography.
In addition, the school had to secure £40,000 in private sponsorship, which it did after negotiation with companies including Lenovo, SMIF, Chadwick Lawrence, Odyssey Glass, Simply Biz, Century Power Tools, Marshalls and other organisations, including the Friends of Rawthorpe parents and teachers association, who donated monies.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, a member of the Commons education select committee said: “I’m delighted. Rawthorpe is a school that has gone from strength to strength and I have been extremely impressed by what I have seen. I have enjoyed chartering its progress.”
He added that he had accompanied schools minister Lord Andrew Adonis around the school earlier this year and he had also been very impressed.
Rawthorpe is one of three schools in Kirklees being considered as a potential academy along with Fartown High and All Saints Catholic College at Bradley. The school favours linking with nearby junior and infant schools and becoming the Rawthorpe Learning Centre, offering education from 0 through to 16 years.
Judith Franklin, deputy head (curriculum) at Colne Valley High School, said staff and students were “delighted”.
She said the arts were an area in which the school was particularly strong.
“Our specialism will focus on key areas of music, drama and English,” she said.
Mrs Franklin said the cash which came with specialist status would help the school continue raising achievement and aspirations of students.
It would also help to further develop facilities in performing arts and dance. The school will re-develop a new editing and recording studio as part of the status.