STAFF and students at Marchbank Free School in Darlington have bid a fond farewell to their Y6 students at the school’s first end of year awards ceremony and graduation event.

Eight boys who are moving on to start their secondary education wore caps and gowns and were presented with a class of 14 year book.

Children received student of the year awards from each staff member, attendance awards and three specific awards were presented; Ryan Davidson was awarded the ‘most consistent student’, Thomas Taylor was awarded ‘most improved student’ and Tiesha Lea Nicholson received the ‘above and beyond’ award.

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Marchbank Free School opened in September 2013 and is a full time educational provision for primary aged children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) and associated needs. Marchbank is situated in Darlington serving both Darlington and the surrounding area.

The school site is a red brick Grade II listed building at Mowden Hall in Darlington which lends itself to the school’s ethos of creating a nurturing homely environment where the children can feel safe and secure and develop a sense of belonging.

The magnificent mature grounds provide opportunities for outdoor learning across all curriculum areas and the established wooded area provides the perfect environment for weekly forest school lessons.

The curriculum merges the creative, pictorial and artistic elements of an approach used in Steiner education with a highly structured approach to learning literacy and numeracy skills to create an innovative, exciting and creative curriculum.

Principal Mandy Southwick said: “We have enjoyed a fantastic first year and look forward to our next year welcoming new staff and students through our planned growth to 30 children”.