Its successful facelift is one of many quick-fix strategies being circulated to struggling schools
Low-achieving schools in deprived areas should introduce reward schemes for pupils, employ former students as teachers and revamp their reception areas so they resemble hotel lobbies. Staff should walk around local estates to break down social barriers between schools and the community, while those in the capital should take pupils on the London Underground to "broaden their horizons".
The recommendations were made this week in a government report examining strategies which have helped schools in areas of low aspirations. It says such measures could help transform local attitudes towards schools. Suggestions include introducing a rewards system, which can involve merit prizes and badges for good attendance.
Great Yarmouth High School, one of those featured, crowns a student from every tutor group as "pupil of the month" and gives them a ticket to jump the dinner queue for 10 days. Jim Nixon, the headteacher, said: "Everyone responds to praise and our scheme provides tangible rewards that do not cost anything. This provides pupils with short-term goals."
Another school praised is the Wordsley School in the West Midlands which asked architects to design a reception to "make us more welcoming". Visitors say it now resembles a Holiday Inn lobby.
The report, The Extra Mile, also emphasises developing social and emotional skills, respect for others and building language abilities.
Twenty schools in deprived wards are set to benefit from pound;10,000 each in extra funding to try out new measures. They will be supported by a partner school already deemed successful in raising aspirations. The trial will last from next month to summer next year, when the various techniques will be reviewed and potentially used in other schools.
John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said: "These efforts are not about going the extra mile but core to what schools should be doing. But teachers and schools need the flexibility to do what they think appropriate. We must be careful this does not become another checklist schools will be judged on."
- Strict uniform and behaviour policies can have a dramatic impact on standards, says an Ofsted report released today following a study of 14 schools that came out of special measures at least three years ago and now judged "good" or "excellent".
Good leadership, accurate self-assessment and a strong school identity were shown as vital to raising standards. But this often came at the expense of the head in charge when schools were judged as failing. Of the 14 in the study, 11 had replaced their heads before coming out of special measures.
- 'The Extra Mile' is at www.teachernet.gov.ukpublications
- 'Sustaining Improvement: Journey from Special Measures' is at www.ofsted.gov.uk
WHAT WORKED FOR SOME SCHOOLS
Staff are rewarded with gifts and sent a weekly thank-you letter.
Bitterne Park School, Southampton
Employs eight former pupils as teachers.
Robert Clack School, Dagenham
Year 11 pupils must achieve 90 per cent attendance to go to the school prom; those with 95 per cent go for half price. Pupils who have a clean attendance record go free and have the chance to win free transport to the event.
Great Yarmouth High School
Pupils elected to set up a student behaviour panel to monitor low-level disruption in lessons.
Ashcroft High School, Luton
Mentors from companies, including Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, work individually with pupils in their final year, to help them prepare for GCSEs.
Harris Academy, Southwark, south London.