A HIGH Wycombe academy has been upgraded to a national Flagship School for inclusion.

The Highcrest Academy, in Hatters Lane, High Wycombe, is just the 12th secondary school in the UK to achieve the flagship status.

Highcrest was evaluated in a two-day inspection in June against a nationally-recognised framework called the Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM).

And external assessor Chris Chivers gave the academy, its staff and students glowing feedback.

"The Highcrest Academy is a school that has a clear understanding of what is expected and what can be provided to enhance the learning experience for all children," he said.

"There is an energy and enthusiasm from the staff which is infectious and clearly visible in the attitudes and behaviour of the children who gave their time to be interviewed. The children admit to being encouraged and inspired to aspire."

Mr Chivers added: "Learning is at the heart of whole-school development, with significant work being undertaken to ensure that personalised approaches to learning are a reality for vulnerable students, with a differential approach the aspiration for all learners."

He praised the academy’s leadership, but also singled out the students, saying: "The students are a credit to the school. They were invariably polite, happy to engage in detailed discussion of their own learning and their experiences through their time at the school. They are partners in the running of the school, many being given responsibility through student leadership programmes."

The IQM standard says in its criteria: "Educational inclusion is about equal opportunities for all pupils, whatever their age, gender, ethnicity, attainment and background."

Mr Chivers’ assessment said of Highcrest: "There is significant evidence of good practice in Inclusion, across all categories of need. Inclusion is evident in every aspect of school life, ensuring that Every Child Matters and, as an extension, that every person associated with the school is also fully valued."

To obtain flagship status in the award, a school has to be successfully assessed twice previously. The first time for Highcrest was in 2008 followed by a second one in 2010. Highcrest believes it was the first school in Bucks to gain an IQM.

Principal Shena Moynihan said: "I am thrilled at the way in which our academy has been recognised in this award scheme. "Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do at Highcrest because we really do believe that every child matters regardless of their background.

"Being a Flagship School is a great honour for us because it means we share best practice with others. This award truly reflects the wonderful work of our staff, governing body and, of course, our fantastic students."