A MOTHER has spoken out in support of teachers at a troubled Burnley school.

Catherine Deakin, whose 14-year-old, Owen Deakin-Pickard, attends Hameldon Community College in Byron Street, praised the work done by the headteacher and staff at the school.

Earlier this month hundreds of pupils stayed away from the school, which is now in special measures, after a racist incident which saw two Asian youngsters attacked by intruders.

But Ms Deakin said the 'good' work done by teachers at the school, which was formed in September 2006 with the merger of Ivy Bank and Habergham High, needed to be highlighted.

The Burnley youth worker said her other son Elliot Deakin-Pickard, 17, left the college with an A and 4 Cs after being predicted Ds and Es She said: "I think the good work being done in the school needs highlighting after all the bad press."

Hameldon, launched under the Building Schools for the Future scheme, was placed in special measures by education watchdog Ofsted last March, after widespread concerns over teaching and standards.

But when Ofsted inspectors returned to the school earlier this term they found matters to be improving.

Ms Deakin, of Padiham Road, Burnley, said: "After the incident my kids did not feel unsafe and I think they are still well cared for.

"It did worry me when the school went into special measures but I was more worried about the demoral-ising effect on the teachers."

On Monday it was revealed that the school was a first-choice option for fewer than 100 youngsters across the borough when Year Six parents were asked to pick at least three establishments where they would like to send their child for secondary education.

Burnley Council leader Gordon Birtwistle said before Hameldon was created, Ivy Bank and Habergham High Schools could expect to attract about 600 such applications each.

Ms Deakin said the school was an important tool for integration in Burnley.

She said: "Because of the integration of the schools, which merged one predominantly Asian with a predominantly white population, there is a good mix of backgrounds.

"I feel it is important for my kids to grow up around different races".