Tom Watson praises 'unique and creative' Sandwell Valley School
Tom Watson has hailed a 'unique and creative' independent school that has opened in Sandwell.
Sandwell Valley School in West Bromwich has officially opened its doors under independent status, having previously operated on a part-time basis.
The school on Birmingham Road has been supported by property giants Bond Wolfe, and offers education, training programmes and apprenticeships for 13-18-year-olds.
Labour's deputy leader and West Bromwich East MP Mr Watson, said: "This is a unique and creative education provision that is loosely described as alternative education.
"It would not have happened without the philanthropy of Bond Wolfe chairman Paul Bassi.
"We should be very proud that he supports the hardest to reach students in Sandwell."
Mr Watson, who chatted to students during his visit to the school, also praised its 'committed' staff for being an inspiration to youngsters.
Bond Wolfe spent £250,000 to get the school up and running.
Mr Bassi said he hoped to see the school model replicated in other areas of the Black Country.
"I'd like to see it rolled out far and wide," he said. "This school proves that it does not take vast sums of money to create something that is of real benefit to the community.
"We are a business with shareholders, employees and customers, but we also have a duty to our community.
"I like the fact that at Sandwell Valley School we can help to give people the best start in life."
The school currently has 170 pupils in total, including around 100 on apprenticeships. It specialises in small class sizes, allowing students to benefit from working with teachers on a one-to-one basis.
It initially opened in 2010, providing part-time education to children who were missing in education.
Principal Mim Hall said: "A lot of our students have been away from any sort of education. By offering them a range of opportunities, including GCSEs, apprenticeships and other bespoke programmes, we can help them to achieve their potential."