About turn for troubled Bexhill High academy

Bexhill High students cooking and serving lunch to 36 members of the public at the Skill Centre. 21/10/13

Bexhill High students cooking and serving lunch to 36 members of the public at the Skill Centre. 21/10/13

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AROUND 500 parents and carers packed into Bexhill High to hear about dramatic change in the way the school will be run.

On Tuesday evening Interim Principal Andy Mortimer and Head of School Darren Gelder spoke about the future of the £38 million academy placed in Special Measures last April.

From half-term there will be no more lessons with 90 pupils and the maximum will be 30. Students will no longer have to stay at school until 5pm, and can leave at 3.05pm. Homework will be re-introduced along with form time, and three-hour lessons will be scrapped, with a maximum of 90 minutes.

It is the end of the experiment started by former Executive Principal Mike Conn when he was given the chance to create a new school.

The new building in Gunters Lane boasted state-of-the-art facilities and design but other innovations were greeted with dismay - the extended school day, pupils being taught in groups of 90 for three hours at a time, and homework being scrapped.

Mr Mortimer said: “Twelve months ago this school was about to fall off the edge of a cliff. OFSTED came in, delivered a damming report, and we were put into Special Measures.

“Inadequate progress was being made, which in effect put us in the bottom five percent of schools in the country. Financial and professional control of the school were removed from us, and the HMI and OFSTED were clear on what we had to do.

“They told us groups of 90 couldn’t go on. We have been told to physically divide up the pods, and we have started that already.

“As for three-hour lessons - I can’t concentrate for more than 20 minutes at a time. Three hours would drive me nuts.

“Now each lesson will be between 60 and 90 minutes. That is a reasonable amount of time and students will, as a result, make greater progress.”

Pupils will have the option of staying until 5pm if they wish to with fully-staffed homework areas with ICT provision, or go home at 3.05pm.