Long Sutton’s Peele Community College on way to becoming a “good” school – but a uniform row threatens to eclipse the good news

Peele head teacher Elizabeth Smith celebrates the journey to educational success with students. SG070916-115TW
Peele head teacher Elizabeth Smith celebrates the journey to educational success with students. SG070916-115TW
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Peele Community College is on its way to becoming a “good” school in the eyes of education inspectorate Ofsted.

The Long Sutton school students achieved GCSE results last month that were described as “fantastic” by head teacher Elizabeth Smith.

Peele’s five A*-C pass rate, including English and Maths, was 53 per cent – up 20 per cent on last year.

It’s a remarkable about-turn for a school that Miss Smith freely admits should have been placed in special measures when Ofsted inspectors visited in January – but only if that verdict had been based on the measure of the 2015 GCSE results alone.

Earlier this year, Miss Smith revealed the school was labelled by Ofsted as “requires improvement” because inspectors saw beyond the GCSEs – and noted shoots of recovery.

Ofsted carried out a monitoring visit at the end of last term and the verdict soon to be published will reveal “senior leaders and governors are taking action in order (for Peele) to become a good school”.

Miss Smith said highlights from the Ofsted Section 8 monitoring report for her are: “You are rightly working to raise the aspirations and expectations of staff and pupils alike – and all pupils wear a smart uniform with some pride and this is a very striking feature of the school.”

But, on Monday as pupils started the new term, more than 70 youngsters found themselves placed in “isolation” for violating the uniform code, many of them girls who wore “skinny” trousers.

Some students, Miss Smith admits, were put in isolation having bought skinny trousers mistakenly sold by one of the school’s official suppliers as “suitable for the Peele” – and some were wrongly placed there for having handbags instead of rucksacks, a line she now says she doesn’t want enforced.

Miss Smith told us: “One of the uniform suppliers wasn’t giving the correct trousers or skirt length. He has been spoken to. Our policy says ‘traditional’ trousers.

“We had a few (students) with extremely short skirts.”

Miss Smith said some students were isolated on Monday for having handbags but none were penalised for that on Tuesday.

“I am not putting kids in isolation for handbags,” she said.

There were fewer children in isolation on Tuesday – around 30 – in part because some parents made changes to the children’s uniforms while other parents kept their kids out of school.

It’s the second uniform row to envelop Peele this year.

In the spring, there were more than 50 youngsters in isolation for breaches of the uniform code as Miss Smith enforced the rules in a bid to drive up standards. In April, students were issued with free blazers by the school.

Miss Smith says a smart uniform is part of the drive to improve the school and most parents support the policy.