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EVERYONE'S A WINNER IN NEW CHARTER MARK SCHOOLS AWARDS

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Over 100 schools and colleges today received charter mark status out of a total of 705 awards made to public sector...
Over 100 schools and colleges today received charter mark status out of a total of 705 awards made to public sector organisations. The scheme recognises excellence in service to customers and end users.
Schools minister Jacqui Smith welcomed the awards saying: 'All the winning schools should be proud of their achievement. Everyone's a winner under this scheme - parents, teachers and pupils alike. Some 50,000 children now attend schools with charter mark status and 20,000 students are at charter mark colleges, so many
people across the country are benefiting.
'Charter mark is an integral part of the government's plans to modernise and renew public services. To win the award schools must show they are at the forefront in providing excellent services to their users and are really going that extra mile to raise standards.
'Schools which have gained this award are recognised to be delivering a first class, constantly improving service and are making the best use of the resources available to them. It means they are concentrating on results - the service their communities actually receive.
'The judges making the awards are looking at schools to see that tough performance standards are being met. They want to see schools consulting on what services people need, see that they are treating people fairly and making those services available while learning from complaints.
'Charter mark encourages self-improvement and creates opportunities for people. It also boosts morale in schools and helps team building. I congratulate the many schools which have been recognised today.'
NOTES
1. Charter Mark is an integral part of the modernising government programme. It is a quality improvement tool focussed on the customer and is the Government's award scheme to recognise excellence in customer service.
2. Charter Mark winners receive a crystal trophy and can use the Charter Mark logo. There is no limit on the number of awards which judges make.
3. There are now a record number of 2,061 holders of the Charter Mark award which is held for 3 years.
4. 985 organisations applied for the award in 2000 and there were 744 winners.
5. The scheme is being continually developed to ensure its value. The criteria now emphasise innovation, consultation with front line staff and co-operation between service providers. These are all crucial to the modernising government agenda.
6. Broad range of winners across the whole of the public sector from the emergency services to a wide range of local government services, schools, GP practices and central government offices.
7. Examples of winning schools:
NORTH EAST ' Ian Ramsey Church of England School - 'A Culture of Respect'
The school is always oversubscribed. Although a strongly Christian ethos underpins all aspects of school life it receives pupils from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. It has 'Language College Status' and excels in adapting to the needs of the individual. Targets are set for individual pupils and a mentoring scheme helps pupils work towards their personal targets.
The value of consulting users has been recognised as the key to energising the activities of the school. Parents, pupils and staff are consulted and involved in the schools 'Development Plan' in a systematic way. This approach has now been recognised by the award of a Charter Mark.
Deputy Head Teacher John Grego says: 'We at Ian Ramsey aim to offer 'Choice' where at all possible. We believe the school should be at the heart of the local community.' The school takes diversity issues very seriously.
John Grego is especially pleased that many of the Muslim pupils attend at the special request of their parents who are impressed by the strong culture of respect at the school. Special provision is made for religious observance and pupils are encouraged to take forward their cultural values in their academic life.
Ian Ramsey School is a voluntary aided, co-educational comprehensive school situated on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. There are 1250 pupils aged 11-16 of whom approximately 6.5% are from an ethnic minority background and 14.7% have special educational needs.
SCOTLAND ' Brannock High School - 'Turning Negatives to Positives'
Bad experiences can last a lifetime as any former pupil well knows. The staff of Brannock High School have recognised that dealing with bad experiences before they become more serious is key to promoting a sympathetic environment so that if a issue arises both pupils and parents know they will be listened to. It is this culture of
openness, which has helped the school win a Charter Mark.
As you enter you are greeted by a poster outlining the schools complaints procedure; just one example of how the school has introduced outstanding measures to ensure all pupils and their parents have a real voice within the school.
Edward Tweedlie, Headmaster of the School believes that empowering parents and children to enable them to contribute their ideas to the running of the school is opening up endless opportunities to improve the service the school offers. He says, 'We show by example that we have nothing to hide by being open to people. We know that if we listen we all benefit. My team and myself have worked together to
build an environment which is supportive and sensitive. The award of a Charter Mark is so important to us because it recognises that achievement.'
One of the ways the schools has been able to achieve this has been through the 'Parents Consultative Group', inclusion of pupils with disabilities within mainstream education and lunchtime tutorial support for the older pupils using volunteer staff. One of the most valued schemes for the pupils is the 'STAR Awards' (Special Teenagers are rewarded.) awarded for 'Hard Work', 'Behaving Well' and 'Treating Others with Courtesy and Respect.'
Brannock High School is co-educational and comprehensive and located in North Lanarkshire, serving the villages of Carfin, Holytown, New Stevenson and Newarthill. The school employs 72 staff and serves 770 pupils.
EASTERN REGION ' The John Warner School - 'Learning on the move!'
Over 850 traveller children pass through Southeast Hertfordshire every year. 35 Secondary schools are involved in ensuring their educational needs are met. The John Warner School has formed an innovative partnership with Hertfordshire County Council in order not only to provide an education but ensure that they get the best out of
the services available. Linda Gill, the Special Needs Co-ordinator at The John Warner School says, 'We have 13 traveller children attending our school. My job is to not only to make sure that the system is working for them while they are in school but to provide support when their families are on the move '. This approach has now been recognised by the award of a Charter Mark.
One of the solutions to ensuring that each child receives a constantly high standard of education has been the development of a distance learning package available for all the core subjects. Subject teachers are involved in all stages of the process; setting up learning objectives, supplying resources and providing content for
the packs.
Linda Gill explains: 'The school now uses e-mail and mobile phones to keep in touch with the children and their parents. We need to be able to use new technology to break down the barriers of distance that come between the children and a good education.'
The school believes that Charter Mark has played an important part in helping them recognise the benefits of treating the children as individuals in order to integrate them effectively into the education system.
The John Warner School is an 11-18 mixed, non-selective, comprehensive school. The school is situated on the fringe of the London conurbation in Southeast Hertfordshire, serving the Lea Valley and the Southern Ware areas. The school employs 119 teaching and support staff and serves 902 pupils.
SOUTH WEST ' Minety pre school - 'No more tears childcare'
Every parent dreads the moment they have to leave their child at school for the first time. Screaming tantrums, tears and iguana like clingyness are unfortunate hazards of the first day at primary school.
Luckily for parents in the village of Minety in Wiltshire, a pioneering childcare group has helped to abolish troublesome first day nerves for both parents and children. The pre-school group has developed a unique partnership with Minety Primary school which prepares and matures children in preparation for their move to
primary school.This is just one of the initiatives that has helped the Minety Pre-School to win a Charter Mark Award, the Government's award for recognising excellent customer service in the public sector.
Heather Pilcher, secretary and treasurer of the pre-school's parental committee explained how a glowing Ofsted inspection inspired the group to apply for a Charter Mark Award.
'The Ofsted inspection spurred us to investigate the Charter Mark awards. We found the strict criteria encompassed all the values we consider vital in our group. The committee is solely made up of parents, which means everyone has a personal incentive to improve the standards of the school, ultimately benefiting their children.
The pre-school group boasts a permanently full register, which is unusual in rural areas. This reflects the group's commitment to involving the local community in its activities. Christmas productions, bazaar and fetes help promote the pre-school's role in educating children to a higher standard than traditional play groups.
Heather described how the unique learning environment provided by the joint arrangement familiarised children with the experience of attending primary school.
'The children begin by attending classes once a week in their first term with a recognisable teacher. This is extended to three days a week in the second term, which includes interaction with older children, eventually leading to full time attendance. This process encourages confidence and enhanced social skills for every child, eliminating the dreaded first day tears.'
The Charter Mark reinforces the value of creating partnerships with other community sections. This is a central part of the Minety pre-schools vision for its children. Recently the group had a three year old attending the pre-school with severe hearing difficulties. The staff ensured close contact with his speech therapist and health
visitors in order to pass the information to his primary school. This allowed him to progress with his peers and provided an extra support for his parents during the difficult transition.
NORTH WEST - STANDISH COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL - 'Community Pride'
The parents, teachers and pupils of Standish, Wigan, are justifiably proud of Standish Community High School. In 1989 it looked likely that the school was about to close. Now the school enjoys a national reputation as a standard setter in education and is well known for its excellent international language facilities.
Head Geoff Ashton said: 'We've achieved a great deal in just over 10 years. We are an example of how things can be turned around and we've done it by involving the local community in the day to day life of the school.' This approach has now been recognised by the award of a Charter Mark.
He said: 'Involving the community in the life of the school is very important to us. At present we have 140 adult students learning a foreign language in our new and sophisticated language facility. We want to be at the centre of our community.'
'What makes the school different is that it has not only developed this but is actually sharing the facilities with a consortium of schools and other institutions free of charge. The private sector has also been impressed by the schools approach, with HJ Heinz using the facilities to train their employees in Italian. We have used Charter Mark to benchmark our services and it reassures us that we are providing a quality service. Where we have needed to work at issues Charter Mark has helped us step back and see these more clearly. We've always known partnerships were important but Charter Mark helped us realise that they were essential to help us turn our school around.'
Standish Community High School, on the outskirts of Wigan, has 1150 pupils drawn from a socially diverse, mainly urban area. It is a non-selective, mixed school for children aged 11-16. The school is also open throughout the week, at weekends and in the evenings. There are 69 teaching members of staff, 21 support staff and 25 evening staff.
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