Unity College, Burnley

For other Unity Colleges, see Unity College (disambiguation).
Unity College
Motto Unity, Passion, Respect
Established 2006
Type Foundation school
Headteacher Mrs Sally-Jane Cryer
Chair of Governors Mr Michael Murray
Location Towneley Holmes
BB11 3EN
Coordinates: 53°46′59″N 2°13′16″W / 53.783°N 2.221°W / 53.783; -2.221
Local authority Lancashire
DfE URN 135003 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 929
Gender mixed
Ages 11–16
Colours purple
Website Official website

Unity College is a mixed 11-16 comprehensive school in Burnley, Lancashire, England.


Former school

Towneley High School originally opened in 1941. During its history it had been a technical school, an all-boys school, and latterly a mixed 11-16 community school. It was the first Lancashire school to be awarded by Investors in People.[1]

Early history

The College initially occupied the former Towneley High School, but moved to a state of the art new £33m building in September 2010 as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme.[2] The school was named by a local pupil, Heather Ashworth, who won a competition launched by the local radio station 2BR. The new school's first head teacher, Sally Cryer, had previously been head at Towneley.[3] The school is located in Towneley Park, and the county council's decision to site the new building, on playing-fields close to the old school, rather than reusing the existing site, was contentious. Despite plans to turn the old site into parkland, objections from local residents prompted the borough council's refusal to sell the land, triggering a 2007 public inquiry that subsequently backed the plans.[4][5]

The 20 January 2011 edition of Question Time was broadcast from Unity College, with some pupils in the audience. The panel featured PFA chairman and Burnley FC captain Clarke Carlisle, Conservative Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, former Respect MP George Galloway, former communications director to the Prime Minister Alastair Campbell, and Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes.[6]


Pupils with equivalent of 5 or more GCSEs grade C or above (inc. English & Maths)
Year (Source) Students % special educational needs England % School %
2004* (BBC) 155 34.2 42.7 19.0
2005* (BBC) 143 7.7 44.9 20.0
2006 - - - -
2007 (BBC) 151 15.9 46.7 21.0
2008 (BBC) 149 20.8 47.6 19.0
2009 (BBC) 161 14.2 49.8 29.0
2010 (DfE) 169 14.8 53.4 36.0
2011 (DfE) 185 8.0 58.9 39.0
2012 (DfE) 194 11.0 59.4 55.0
2013 (DfE) 200 3.0 59.2 51.0
2014 (DfE) 180 3.0 53.4 42.0
2015 (DfE) 187 3.0 53.8 38.0
*Figures for previous school, in this case: Towneley High School

In 2007, the school's value-added measure was 971 (national average 1000), which placed it in the bottom 5% nationally for adding value between the end of Key Stage 2 and the end of Key Stage 4.[7] In 2009 the college had increased its attainment to 29% 5 A*-C passes including English and Maths. The college has also improved its 5A*-C measure from below 30% to 64% in just three years.

Notable former pupils

Towneley High School


  1. "Our School... Towneley High School, Burnley". Lancashire Telegraph. Newsquest Media Group. 10 December 2001. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  2. "New Burnley super schools open - PHOTOS". Burnley Express. Johnston Press. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  3. "Heather's honour". Burnley Express. Johnston Press. 19 May 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  4. Charlotte Bradshaw (13 January 2006). "Inquiry demand over school bid". Lancashire Telegraph. Newsquest Media Group. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  5. "Bid to stop new school plan fails". BBC News. 18 January 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  6. Tom Moseley (21 January 2011). "Burnley hosts BBC1 Question Time debate". Lancashire Telegraph. Newsquest Media Group. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  7. "Schools that add the least value". BBC News. 10 January 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  8. "'Burnley girl' made a Dame". Burnley Express. Johnston Press. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2016.

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