A service for school children in Northamptonshire who have been excluded from mainstream school has become the first in the country to become an academy.
The Complementary Education Academy operates from seven sites across Northamptonshire and provides an education for 230 pupils aged 11 to 16.
Head teacher, Bobbie Kelly, said taking the organisation out of the control of Northamptonshire County Council had given her much more freedom.
She said: “Access to our unit was limited and I felt we weren’t able to reach our full potential when we were under local authority control.
“We could only take pupils already permanently excluded.
“But we have specialist facilities and outstanding, dedicated staff and I knew we could do even more.
“Now we are able to negotiate directly with head teachers, take on pupils of theirs who are at risk of exclusion and get them back on track so they can go back to their school and really engage with education.”
More than 80 per cent of the organisation’s pupils move into mainstream education, training or employment.
Ms Kelly said: “I am enormously passionate about the work we do. There’s something immensely rewarding about seeing young people you work with making such huge improvements.”
She was backed by education minister, Elizabeth Truss, who welcomed the creation of the academy.
She said: “Academy status is giving heads and teachers the freedom to make the decisions they know will suit their pupils best – unconstrained by Whitehall and town hall politicians and bureaucrats.
“Already thousands of mainstream schools have chosen to convert.
“Now the first pupil referral unit has converted, and children are already reaping the benefits of that decision.”