A school earmarked for closure in a controversial report is celebrating after being handed a prestigious award.

A review commissioned by the Council of Ministers over school funding issued a report which proposed the closure of eight schools but this was dismissed recently by the Department of Education, Sport and Culture.

One of the schools identified for closure in the report was Willaston but now it has been handed the sought-after Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) Centre of Excellence status.

Executive headteacher Maxim Kelly expressed his pride saying: ‘This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, pupils, and the entire Willaston community.

‘We are committed to continuing our journey of inclusivity and excellence, ensuring that every pupil receives the support and opportunities they need to thrive.’

The achievement is all the more remarkable as the school had only submitted evidence for the IQM Basic Award. However, the assessors were so impressed with the school's commitment to inclusivity and excellence they recommended bypassing the usual route, which typically takes an additional three years after receiving the basic award.

The assessment, conducted on June this year by Sarah Linari, involved a comprehensive review of the school’s operations, including self evaluation, school data, policies, and direct observations of the learning environment.

The evaluation highlighted Willaston School’s exceptional dedication to creating a nurturing, inclusive, and supportive educational environment.

The assessor's report described the school as the ‘beating heart’ of the Willaston community, identifying its strong commitment to inclusivity and community cohesion.

It also praised the school’s ethos of ‘care’ in all aspects of its operations, from the morning assembly to the ‘thoughtful and considered’ classroom design that best meets the diverse range of needs of the children.

The report also praised the support for pupils’ emotional wellbeing and the wide-ranging curriculum.

Mrs Linari’s report concluded: ‘Willaston School not only fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark as an inclusive school but should also be recognised as a Centre of Excellence. The school’s inclusive practices, caring ethos, and commitment to reflective improvement are commendable."

The school’s IQM lead Abbie Irving is delighted with the award which she says is testament to the hard work carried out by everyone at the school.

She said: ‘We are overjoyed to receive this recognition. It reflects the collective effort of our staff, pupils, and families. Our aim has always been to create an environment where every child feels valued and supported.

‘This award is a celebration of our commitment to inclusivity and the wonderful community spirit at Willaston School.’