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Brentwood Academies Trust

Chase High School becomes part of BAT.

Expulsions from Chase High School reached double figures In new head teacher Andrew James's first week on the Job. But, as he told Reporter PAUL NIZINSKYJ, there is a softer approach behind this hard line.

Pupils returned to Southend's Chase High School after their Easter holidays to find they had a new head teacher and a new school.

Andrew James, previously deputy head teacher of St Martin's School in Brentwood, had taken over from his predecessor Victoria Overy as the school Itself became an academy under the Brentwood Academies Trust.

A teacher at Shoe bury High School, Cecu Jones College, Sweyne Park and Gable Hall. he has built up a wealth of experience teaching in the area, before spending the last 15 years at St Martin's.

Chase's last Ofsted report in 2013 found the school to be "inadequate" and the 51·year·old has wasted no time In getting to working on his goal to see Chase rated "good" by 2017 and "outstanding" by 2020.

The first step in this ambitious transformation, he says, would be leaving no doubt In the minds of anyone at the school that the bar had been raised - which led to "more than ten" one-day expulsions of pupils for fighting and swearing at teachers.

But there was also a "soft power" element to the approach as well, he said, which was encouraging pupils to correct their own behaviour - and uniforms – without direct elicitation.

"The key for us Is visibility," he says, “and on a morning we are at the front gate while, at break time, we make a beeline for the canteen, so we're really visible and they can expect to see us. One of the things that's happened already Is we've been told by staff that uniforms are better. "When we meet them at the gates, It's 'Good morning, how are you? Are you enjoying the weather?' It's about smiles, greetings, letting them know it doesn't have to be a draconian experience.

A relatively high volume of expulsions Is a situation he says he Is prepared to accept, however, until the message sinks In for the minority of pupils who continue to misbehave.

"They need to know there is a line in the sand with swearing at teachers and fighting and If that means for a little while the number of expulsions needs to be higher than It has been, we shouldn't be shocked."

Behaviour Is only part of what Mr James wishes to change, however, as the school's academic record has been nothing short of woeful in recent years to the extent that Chase came 54th In a list of 55 similar schools when last year's GCSE results were released, with only 18 per cent of pupils achieving five A - C's including Maths and English.

Mr James's response to this could be interpreted as the opposite of his raising standards in behaviour, but he says he wants to cut pupils' and teachers' workloads, so they can focus more and excel at less.

"Although year nine pupils currently do four options, I can see us moving to three in time because they need to do fewer subjects, but have more time to do them really well.

''And if some pupils need to do six GCSEs instead of eight because they will do them better, that's the right thing to do."

Article courtesy of the Southend Echo.