School ties are neat and shirts crisp and white – but it it wasn’t always the case at Sir John Gleed School in Spalding.
Head boy Joshua Baldwin said: “When we got uniforms you’d see massive knots and short ties. It was all a big joke – but you don’t see that anymore.
“Students are proud to wear the uniform and love the school.
“We still get looks when people ask us which school we go to but I’ve no complaints.
“Being here has helped me grow up and given me the confidence I need to hopefully get a career in performing arts.”
Joshua (16) is one of a number of students the Free Press met for a frank discussion about what life is really like at the Gleed and how it has changed since the girls’ and boys’ schools were merged in September 2012.
Head girl Sophie Rogers (15), like the other students we spoke to, was there in those early days. She said: “Everyone thought it wouldn’t work. The Gleed has always had a bad reputation butmost students are happy.
“We are in special measures, yes, but I want to be a pastry chef and I’m getting all the help I need to make sure I make it. It really annoys me when I read bad things about the school.”
Jessie Brown (14) said merging the schools has given students more opportunities and options for the future. She said: “Lots of people said it wouldn’t work and some students thought they’d be able to mess around. But that’s changed now. Our headteacher, Mr Scott, taught us to think about ourselves and that we have to work to achieve the things we want.”
Charlotte Miller (14) said: “I was pleased when the schools merged because going to a girls’ school seemed strange after primary school. I’m happy here but we are encouraged to work hard. Teachers check you are and tackle you when you are not.”
Millie Barnett (14) said: “I really like this school – I’m proud to be here. I was pleased when it merged because I come from a family of brothers and it’s a much better school now. It’s such a shame when people just think negative things.”
Ben McGurk (15) wasn’t surprised there had been problems at the beginning. He said: “There were always rumours and when people say you are rubbish you believe it. It’s not like that now. Students know messing about is a stupid idea.”
‘Students deserve the best every day’
You’ll see him standing at the top of Neville Avenue every morning welcoming students and making sure they get to class on time.
Gleed School head Will Scott is out there every chance he gets making sure the day starts with a smile and giving students reassurance that if the going gets tough, there will be a teacher or member of staff more than happy to help.
For Mr Scott, who is responsible for the future of 1,449 boys and girls as well as steering the school out of special measures, it’s a daily reminder of what is most important.
He said: “Every day something the students achieve blows me away.
“Our teachers are working incredibly hard not just so the school can get out of special measures, but to give the students the very best – it’s what they deserve every day.”
Last week, news the school’s South Holland Post 16 Centre had the second best vocational result in the county helped to underline a new hope that is filling the corridors.
But a recent Ofsted report which raised concerns about some areas of teaching while recognising behaviour of students had improved shows there is still work to be done.
Now all focus for the 90 teachers and 100 support staff is on improving GCSE results, although with 41 per cent of students achieving five A* to C grades including English and Maths last year, the school was only six per cent behind the Peele Community College in Long Sutton and is by no means the worst in the county.
Mr Scott said: “The perception of Sir Gleed within the commununity is mixed. But the school has an open door – we encourage prospective parents and students to come and see what we do.
“I’m just the man steering the ship. There is still work to do, but the school has made significant progress since the initial Ofsted inspection.
“Where there has been failings in teaching we have helped the staff with any areas they need support with. Recruitment is an issue countywide but we want the best teachers here and I won’t settle for any less.
“Look down the corridor – there are no students wandering about. They are in class learning. It’s a different place – a better place.
“What we need now is support and help from the community and for them to believe, like we do, that we will succeed.”