School celebrates fresh start for students in Bath
Newly refurbished classrooms at Lansdown Park Academy Rush Hill were officially opened this week.
In a refurbished wing of the former Bath Community College, students and teachers were joined by Bath & North East Somerset councillors and partner organisations for a celebratory tea and tour of their classrooms, dining hall and to see the excellent artwork on display.
The new school is run by Learn@ Multi Academy Trust, which manages four specialist schools in and around Bristol. At Rush Hill the trust aims to improve the life chances of young people from the Bath area who have been excluded from their secondary school, or are at risk of exclusion.
Lansdown Park Academy Rush Hill has places for up to 20 students, from Years 7 to 11 and is working with established partner organisations such as Empire Fighting Chance, Off the Record, Bath Community Farm and Rocksteady to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and offer progression to further education. The school employs specialist teachers and support staff with experience in working with young people with social, emotional or mental health needs.
Executive Principal for Rush Hill Lansdown Park Academy Aileen Morrison said: "Young people in Bath finally have the sort of quality facilities they deserve should they find that they are not coping well in their secondary school.
“Our Rush Hill pupils were the stars of the open afternoon; welcoming visitors, serving teas and coffees and explaining eloquently their views on their education and their hopes and ambitions for the future. They clearly stepped up to the role of school ambassador and proved again that, even if things haven't always gone well in the past, they are capable of succeeding given the right opportunities.
“We’re beginning to build good relationships with all local secondary schools to support students before they become permanently excluded, as this is a damaging process for all concerned. They will spend a fixed amount of time with us while we work closely with them to turn around their experience of school and re-engage them positively in their education. Our aim is that they can then re-integrate back into mainstream secondary schools with the right support or sit their exams with us if referred towards the end of Year 11.”
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Bath & North East Somerset Council, Councillor Paul May, added: “We welcome Learn@ Multi Academy Trust as our new commissioned provider of this specialist service. They bring a wealth of specialist experience from their established schools to support some of our most vulnerable young people and where possible help them make a successful return to mainstream schools.”
Kev Long at Mentoring Plus works with many of the students at the Academy to provide family support. He said: “Its great to see so many schools and agencies are working together to help support some young people and families in Bath. Mentoring Plus will continue to help families navigate difficult and challenging situations and processes while supporting students at schools like Rush Hill.”
Lewis, aged 15, has been at Rush Hill since October and is hoping to move on to a new secondary school in the Spring. He commented: “It is much less crowded here with less distractions for me. I can combine my lessons with outside activities and there is always someone around who can support me.”
Corey, aged 15, will sit his GCSEs at Rush Hill having moved schools several times. He hopes to move into an apprenticeship in hospitality after his exams. “This school has been more like real life, it’s been a good place for me.”
Carla, aged 15, is mixing her days at Rush Hill with support to move back to her mainstream secondary school. She said “There is more space here and it feels like a learning community. I’m having lots of discussions about what I do when I finish school this year.”
Rhianna, aged 12, has enjoyed the small scale of Rush Hill and is now visiting her new mainstream secondary school with teachers to prepare her move back.