According to a report in the Express, ‘one of the country’s worst schools’ has been transformed in just a few weeks by piping classical music around the corridors and putting teachers in high-visibility jackets…
Westwood Girls’ College had such bad GCSE results that it was put in special measures by schools watchdog Ofsted.
Within weeks of opening as a Harris Academy, however, pupils were walking calmly to lessons listening to Beethoven or Brahms.
“That’s one of my ideas,” said Chris Everitt, head teacher of the school in Upper Norwood, South London.
“The kids really like it,” he added as the music switched to Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus, “it gives a calming feeling to the hallways.”
He added that it had revolutionised pupils’ behaviour on the way to lessons. “It’s completely different to how it was. They used to loiter and the noise was horrific.
“At the end of every lesson every single member of staff comes out into the corridors and into the classrooms wearing high-vis jackets so that the students know exactly where we are. The dinner ladies are also out helping move the pupils along to the next lesson.
“Our motto is that every minute counts, so they have to get to classes quickly. We ring a five-minute warning bell letting them know that break is coming to an end so by the time the final bell goes, they are all in class ready for the next lesson.
“We are trying to get them to understand that life is fast-paced and that you have to move around purposefully to succeed.”
There have been improvements in the school’s exam results too. Mr Everitt said: “I took over on April 15 and we put these changes in straight away. Results did go up a bit, with 58 per cent of the pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE.”
The school has a sixth form for the first time with pupils studying for A levels and the ultimate goal of university.
Mr Everitt stressed that his most important task is to raise expectations. “Anything is possible and they have to start believing this to succeed.”
What do you make of the steps described in this report? Other than the mention of GCSEs going up “a bit” there’s no objective measure of improvement details, so perhaps the claims are a little premature, but can a series of changes like those described come together to make students feel differently about their school and what they can achieve there? Please give us your views in the comments or on twitter…