On Track Education, based at Moulton Park, has been given a Good by Ofsted inspectors who praised the centre's "inspirational leadership" during their recent visit.
The school based in a former industrial unit, offers tailored curriculum for just 32 pupils, some of whom have been involved in youth offending, have been excluded or are currently in care.
It also caters for young people with challenging conditions such as Aspergers.
Centre manager Sally O'Connor said she was thrilled with the Ofsted report.
"We are so proud because we are marked in exactly the same way as any other school now. We were very close to outstanding - in fact the inspector didn't want to leave."
The school works by giving students hands-on tuition in small groups in which two members of staff are assigned to classes of just four pupils.
Morning sessions involve academic subjects with many of the Key Stage 4 students there working towards GCSE or BTEC qualifications.
But in the afternoon the lessons are structured around practical skills such as construction, childcare or PE.
Teacher learning manager Pete Davies, said: "In a mainstream education, these pupils just wouldn't get that."
Mrs O'Connor continued: "Many of the children here struggled socialising in their mainstream schools. But here they become best friends. We see them hug each other when they haven't seen each other in a while.
"A lot of them are very sad to leave here."
On Track education caters for pupils between 11 and 19 and even offers to stay in touch with the pupils once they leave. Some even go back into mainstream education or college after a time.
"All of our pupils have a destination," said Mrs O'Connor. "And if they need help at college we will sort that for them.
"That door is always open to ex-pupils.
"We get young people coming back here for years."
Krystal Redpath, 16, from Goldings, joined the school three years ago and is now hoping to take a college course in childcare after she leaves this summer.
She said: "I am much more patient and calm now, I couldn't keep my patience at all before I came here.
"It's relaxing here, it's much better for me."