WITH students from more than 60 nationalities a Blackburn school has been celebrating its rich diversity as it strives to become an outstanding school.

More than 40 different languages are spoken by the population of Blackburn Central High School, which focuses on demonstrating what people have in common, while also celebrating the rich cultural history of individuals.

As a new student joins headteacher Diane Atkinson encourages them to pin on a map where they have come from, while the school hangs flags from the different nations throughout the Haslingden Road building.

There are youngsters from the Gambia, Brazil, Thailand, Finland, Russia and Trinidad to name just a few.

The school, which was opened under the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2012, had a rocky start after the merger of the former Beardwood High School and Blakewater College, the latter having lost the confidence of the community.

Since then it has thrived and has increased the student population by 300, Mrs Atkinson said.

She said: "It has been successful because we have kept our focus on making sure the children have the best outcomes and my job as leader is to make sure the systems are in place to make that happen.

"There is a lot of work we do to make sure students are fully integrated. Pupils are tolerant and show respect for each other regardless of background, race and religion and the family ethos is tangible.

"We celebrate all faiths and cultures and really encourage them to learn from each other.

"While they are here they are being taught that we are all the same and should respect each other. Students feel safe here and we want them to carry those values into adult life."

A recent 'good' Ofsted report highlighted the tolerance of pupils, the family ethos and how proud the children are of the charity work they do.

"They are the first to come and say 'what can we do?' We are going to be putting rescue boxes together to take to London after the Grenfell Tower disaster," Mrs Atkinson said.

Now the focus is on achieving an 'outstanding' rating and encouraging youngsters to achieve their dreams.

Mrs Atkinson said this can be done through combining a challenging curriculum to extend minds and expand creative horizons which offering down to earth pastoral care.

Key stage three pupils were full of praise for the school.

Zainab, 13, said: "We are like a family. We all get along and the teachers help us a lot."

Leon, 14, said he feels like they are one of the best schools in the world.

He said: "If you want to come to teachers at the end of the day they will take their time out to help you. The Ofsted report makes us want to be even better."

Aaminah, 12, said: "The teachers help us achieve out goals."

Shiraaz, 14, added: "We are striving for outstanding now."