THERE are no favourites at Ferndown Upper School.

Head teacher Alex Wills is determined every child, regardless of ability or background, will achieve their full potential at the Cherry Grove school.

With sixth form results in the top third in the country and improving GCSE results, academic standards are not to be sniffed at.

But you get the feeling life at Ferndown Upper is about much more than that.

Continuity is at the top of the agenda with students encouraged to stay on at sixth form, regardless of whether or not they have the academic ability to take A levels.

The school’s new Level 2 Access programme gives students the chance to study subjects such as psychology, graphics and communication, business and functional IT and carpentry without leaving school and going to college.

It is a programme the school is justifiably proud of and Mr Wills has urged teenagers to consider it when they get their GCSE results next month.

High-fliers are also more than welcome and six of the new Year 13 group are applying for places at Oxford or Cambridge.

Students throughout the school are also encouraged to take the English Baccalaureate to boost their chances of getting into good universities. Continuity is also taken very seriously at the lower end of the school with newcomers made to feel welcome.

Many of the students come from the first and middle schools on the same site, making the move to upper school less daunting.

And those joining Year 9 in September were welcomed into the school for three transition days last week to ensure they are raring to go in September.

Around 230 children will be joining the school for the new academic year with a handful of spaces still available.

Year 10 and 11 are full. Most pupils attend from the Ferndown, West Moors and Verwood areas with others travelling from Poole or Bournemouth.

“One of the most important things going on is that we have changed the curriculum to match the needs of the workplace” said Mr Wills.

“It is very important young people have the right qualifications and skills for jobs or higher education.”

Age groups are encouraged to mix with pupils from Years 9, 10 and 11 coming together for tutor time at the beginning of the day. A strong house system also encourages good relationships between students.

On October 20 this year the school will be celebrating its 40th birthday and is encouraging past pupils to come together for a reunion from 4pm until 8pm.

Details can be found on the Ferndown network on Facebook. By then, work to improve science and library facilities at the school will be complete.