BBC Radio 4



When pensioners Viv and Fred Morgan read about a teenager committing suicide clutching her teddy, they decided to act - turning their home into a school to help other bullied kids. They took their Bed and Breakfast in Hatton, Warwickshire and turned rooms into classrooms and built recreation and therapy facilities in the grounds. Now they have 17 pupils attending, more than half of whom have tried to take their own lives in the past. Children aged between 11 and 16 can be referred by their local authorities and most stay for about a year. At first they often struggle with the curriculum but gradually they join classes - with 22 full and part time teachers covering everything from Science and English through to Photography GCSE. Fred was 90 when they founded Northleigh House School but even now, four years on, he has no interest in retiring and Viv agrees: "We're not people who sit back and do nothing. When we heard of the situation facing youngsters we just knew we should try and help." Alan Dein meets pupils and also those who have successfully taken their GCSEs and moved back into mainstream for 6th form. Ruth was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was 12 and struggled so desperately with school that she wanted her life to end. When she eventually arrived at Northleigh it took her weeks to develop the trust and build up the energy needed to attend lessons. Now she has her sights set on applying to study law at University: "When I first walked in here it was like being at a friend's house. I didn't know what to expect but I saw the fire in the grate and the welcoming feel of the place. It has been the best thing that has happened to me coming here and I wish others knew it existed and could help them as well." Producer Susan Mitchell.

Duration: 28 min

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