A better start for new pupils

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RICHARD STEELE is looking forward to his first day at the Ridings School in September.

His parents looked at schools across Halifax when they were deciding where to send their son, aged 10, for his secondary education.

Two schools seemed suitable, although they were a bus ride away from the Steeles' home on the Denfield estate near the Ridings. But they chose the Ridings instead, despite its status as a failing school.

Richard's mother, Lynn, said the school would not have been their choice a year ago. Her 16-year-old daughter Keeley took her GCSEs at the Ridings last year, and lived through the worst period in the school's history.

But now, Mrs Steele said, things have changed. "We looked at other schools for Richard, but when we thought about it, we decided the Ridings was going to be an up-and-coming school."

Mrs Steele is not alone. Half of Richard's class at Lee Mount Junior School nearby will be off to start at the Ridings after the summer.

"The school is very friendly now, although I must say it always was when my other children went there," Mrs Steele said. "I must be honest though that a year ago I did not want my son to go there.

"The main fear was whether he would have got a good education because of what was going on. We didn't even know whether the school was going to close down.

"It's all changed now and the school is getting so much money. There are a lot of improvements and the school is really coming on. The school had a show and it was all booked out.

"But the biggest change is the good write-up the school gets when people write to the papers here.

"Richard is really looking forward to it. We have faith."