A HEADTEACHER who last year sent home 150 pupils for wearing the wrong uniform says he is “pleasantly surprised” at the changing attitude of his school children.
Dr Rory Fox, headteacher of the Basildon Academies , sent just two Year 10 students home yesterday, a year on from turning 150 away from the school in Wickford Avenue, Pitsea , on the first day of term.
Dr Fox’s hard-line approach prompted an angry reaction from parents and the police had to be called in, but big improvements have since been made and last month the school posted its best GCSE results, achieving a 45 per cent A* to C pass rate.
The Echo joined Dr Fox and Sheren Breslin, one of the associate vice principals, for the first day back yesterday and watched as just two Year 10 boys were sent home for wearing trainers. They were told to buy a pair of black shoes before returning.
Dr Fox was pleased his message was getting through. He said: “Compared to the chaos of last year, we have all been pleasantly surprised how well dressed the pupils came in.
“The fact we have only had to send two home speaks volumes on how far we have come in just a year. Last year most children didn’t even have a bag with them and now they are in full and correct uniform with the equipment they need for lessons like notepads and pens.
“Attitudes have changed and I think it’s the fact the children have rules to follow and they actually like having a structure to follow. Many would never admit that, though.
“We are all pleasantly surprised with the success and change we have had a year on. We thought there might have been problems with our Year 11s, but they were actually smarter than the Year 10 group. It’s great to see.”
Dr Fox said he was now keen to take the school up another level.
He said: “Last year we really clamped down on behaviour and concentrated on getting that sorted out – this year it’s all about the teaching and learning side.”
Mrs Breslin, who is a Spanish specialist who started last September, added: “It’s lovely to see the children enthusiastic about school – it’s a totally different attitude compared to last year. Being on the gate all morning you may have thought you were in a different school.”