The new principal of Manor Community Academy has urged parents to support the school’s crackdown on bad behaviour, saying the academy has the children’s best interests at heart.
Lee Kirtley was appointed as principal of the school on Owton Manor Lane, in Hartlepool, around Easter time and since then there has been a renewed emphasis on its existing Behaviour Policy to stop a minority of pupils disrupting learning for others.
Following the crackdown - which aimed to drive up standards and target a range of issues including attendance, make-up and uniform - a small number of students were given fixed-term exclusions for failing to comply to rules.
Some parents hit out at the enforced measures, which also see pupils handed detentions for being late, but Mr Kirtley has defended the policy, saying that there has already been a great improvement in the students behaviour.
The 37-year-old said that since the measures have been introduced, attendance in four of the five year groups is better than it was and is rising.
He said staff now rarely have to have conversations around make-up, jewellery or uniform and instead they are centred around the learning of pupils.
The dad-of-two said: “My plea to any parents that are not supportive out our standards is to work with us, as we have the best interests of every child at heart.
“We won’t comprise on our expectations because we can’t.
“We want parents to just support us in getting students in to school in the right frame of mind, on time, and in the right uniform.
“I am happy to meet with any parents and I have done.
“The parents who have come in and spoken to me have left feeling really positive.”
The school’s latest Ofsted inspection report, which was carried out in February this year, said that the school requires improvement.
Under its Behaviour Policy, the school, which currently has just under 1,100 pupils, does not allow pupils to wear obvious make-up, nail varnish, or have unnatural hair colours.
Pupils have to wear the correct uniform and shoes and must be on time for school and lessons.
Students are given a scheduled detention if they are late and those not wearing the correct uniform and make-up are given a way to correct it.
Failure to comply leads to an exclusion.
Mr Kirtley says there has already been an improvement in attendance and that exclusions for disruption in lessons have fallen.
He continued: “The behaviour policy has been going really well, the students have conformed to our expectations and surpassed some expectations.
“I think they were ready for it. It’s not going away.
“I am very proud of the students here.
“I want students here to get a deal that is as good as any school in the country.
“I want them to enjoy coming to school and to thrive in school.
“I want them to be in control of their own futures rather than have barriers put in the way of them doing as well in school.”
Academy trust aims to remove barriers to education
Andrew Jordon is executive principal for the Northern Education Trust, responsible for schools including Manor Academy and Dyke House ion Hartlepool.
He said: “We want to remove the barriers there are to learning in all of our academies.
“Some of the things that can get in the way of teaching in the classroom can be very small things, but it can draw the teachers attention away from having a fast-paced and progressive lesson.”
On the renewed focus on the school’s behaviour policy, he continued: “Over the course of the last nine months since September we have done various things in the academy to support that expectation - from uniform to children’s behaviour in the classroom.
“The overwhelming majority of parents and children back what we are doing.
“They want to learn and have the best possible opportunities.
The majority of parents can see that there is a clear focus on learning in the academy.
“The Ofsted in February made it clear from the Students Voice, that the students feel safe in the academy and are able to learn in lessons as a result of this greater focus on expectations around behaviour.
“It is clear that a lot of what we are doing is working.
“Exclusions are falling over the course of the academic year.
“Where we have risen the expectations there has been a initial spike in the fixed term exclusions and that has dropped after that point, as students have become more aware of our expectations.”