The Evening Standard, one of London’s daily newspapers, had a great story the other day about a public high school school in London that went from being one of the worst in Britain to one of the best, in just four short years.
While it was certainly a team effort between the administrators, the teachers, the parents, and the children, to me one person stands out as the primary driver of the success, the headmaster, Dave Moody.
The key seems to be a new approach to discipline, including banning pupils from shrugging, sighing and rolling their eyes. When a child misbehaves, he or she is taken by a senior staff member to a room to write down their version of events and is not allowed to return to class all day. This frees up teachers to focus on teaching. And even though the school has some of the poorest children in London they are held to a private-school set of expectations.
And the evidence certainly supports such an approach to education. Here are some of the key results:
- 50 students a day were sent to the interview room. Now it is two or three.
- In 2003 three per cent of children left with five A*-C GCSEs. Last year it was 83 per cent.
- Four years ago there were 69 pupils in year seven. This September 195 are due to start and the school is oversubscribed.
- The percentage of students applying to Russell Group (top-tier) universities is up from 13 to 67.
Moody notes that when students follow rules a lot of ‘problem children’ become the star pupils, and the data seems to support such a claim.
And it’s not just the students who are working hard.
Moody states, “we are in at 6am most days and don’t leave until after 8pm and we are in at weekends. The community deserves an outstanding school.”
And in the report that identified all of the great things happening at this school, it highlighted that teachers were proud to work there, morale was high, and pupils of all abilities make “very strong progress”.
So who knew that some hard work, some discipline, and a little leadership could make such a profound difference in the lives of children.
Well we probably all knew that, but we’re just afraid to admit it.