A poorly pupil and a pastoral head have pioneered a new way of learning at Ladybridge High School.

Just weeks after he started at the school, Year Seven pupil Hamzah Barbar fractured his right leg in a playground football match.

The injury was so severe that he spent three weeks in Manchester Children’s Hospital and spent months with pins in his leg.

Hamzah Barbar with : Head of pastoral care, Janine Baille-EamesHamzah Barbar with : Head of pastoral care, Janine Baille-Eames

Janine Baillie-Eames, head of pastoral care at the school, said: “We had a meeting with Hamzah, his mum and healthcare professionals to discuss the feasibility of him returning to school, but it was decided that it would be very difficult to ensure his safety with his injury.”

She sought help from the local authority, who told her they had just started using AV1 robots, and that they would be delighted to loan one to Hamzah.

“I was shocked then excited when I found out,” said Hamzah. “I was also very glad because it meant I could engage in lessons, especially maths and art, which are my favourite subjects.

“It also enabled me to communicate and socialize with my friends, despite not actually physically being in school for four months.”

The AV1 robot, named Ruby, has a built-in camera that can be moved left, right, up and down.

It enabled Hamzah to read worksheets and text books. Its speaker allowed him to join-in conversations.

Whenever he wanted to contribute to lessons, or ask a question, Hamzah could press a button making Ruby’s eyes glow green.

Hamzah’s teachers knew when he was feeling under the weather, and preferred to just listen, because he could indicate this by pressing another button which turned Ruby’s head blue.

Mrs Baille-Eames said: “Beginning high school is a very significant experience, but through Ruby, Hamzah was able to be a part of the Ladybridge community in a big way.

“At Christmas, the robot even represented Hamzah at the end-of-term rewards assembly, and when he won one of the prizes the whole school cheered.”

When his leg frame was removed in March, Hamzah began a phased return to the school. However, his leg was plastered and he was not fully mobile, so he was based in the school’s nurture centre, known as The Nest.

“It meant Hamzah was able to access his classes using Ruby and his tablet. It also meant his pals could come and see him at breaks and lunchtimes, and play games,” said Mrs Baille-Eames .

The good news is that after the May half-term holiday, Hamzah will be back in the classroom full-time.

But that doesn’t mean the school will be saying farewell to robots.

Having proved how useful Ruby was to Hamzah, the school has taken delivery of Rose – another AV1 robot – who is helping another pupil with health issues.

Technology for children has attracted criticism in some quarters, but as Hamzah, Ruby and Ladybridge have shown, sometimes it can be a real force for good.