A school that gained notoriety for banning an 80s-inspired hairstyle called ‘Meet Me At McDonalds’ and putting a limit on students’ bedtimes has been praised by Ofsted.
The Charter Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, has proved controversial since it took over Great Yarmouth High School in September 2017.
New headteacher Barry Smith hit the headlines last month after sending a letter home to parents banning the flamboyant haircut for male pupils.
After the Inspiration academy trust took over last September, pupils were also banned from using mobile phones at school, ordered to walk in single file to lessons, be asleep by 9.30pm and up by 6.30am every day.
The Charter Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk decided to ban the 80s-inspired ‘Meet Me At McDonalds’ hairstyle (pictured) as part of a no-nonsense behaviour crackdown
The Academy (pictured) has proved controversial since it took over Great Yarmouth High School in September 2017
But an unannounced Ofsted inspection on February 21 has revealed a ‘significant’ improvement in pupil behaviour.
Mr Smith introduced strict rules to encourage positive change after the school was rated inadequate by the schools regulator in October 2016.
It had previously reported some of the worst GCSE results, but inspectors have now found a ‘considerable decline of serious misconduct’ since the measures were introduced.
New headteacher Barry Smith (pictured) hit the headlines last month after sending a letter home to parents banning the flamboyant haircut for male pupils
Ofsted inspector Jason Howard said staff and pupils attributed the improvements to the new behaviour policy introduced by new headteacher Mr Smith.
He wrote: ‘All of the large number of pupils who spoke with inspectors said that they now feel safe at school.
‘Pupils moved around the school site in an orderly manner and behaved very politely and respectfully to their peers and to adults.
‘They wore their uniform with pride, arrived at lessons promptly, and settled down to learning quickly.
‘In all lessons visited, learning took place in a calm and orderly environment.
‘Relationships between pupils and teachers were positive, and consequently pupils had the confidence to ask and to answer questions.
‘Pupils behaved well, both when interacting with their teachers and when working on their own.
‘As a result, they worked hard, completing tasks in a focused manner. During break periods, pupils socialised with each other amicably.
Celebrities to have sported a similar hairstyle include Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar (left) and Olly Alexander, the lead singer of the synthpop band Years & Years (right)
‘Pupils and teachers told inspectors that behaviour has improved significantly and that, as one put it, ‘today is just what things are like now’.’
What is the Meet Me At McDonald’s hairstyle?
The hairstyle dubbed the ‘Meet me at McDonald’s’ originated from a social media trend poking fun at ‘chavvy’ attire worn by teens who meet up at the fast food giant.
In 2015 a Twitter page posted an image of four youngsters with the cut, captioning it ‘the Meet us at McDonald’s haircut’.
There is also a 2016 Facebook page dedicated to the trend, called ‘meet me at mcdonalds hair cut.'[sic]
The page posted an image of the ‘starter pack’ for the trend, featuring the hairstyle, an Adidas tracksuit and Nike trainers.
The school was once the worst performing in Norfolk with around a third of pupils leaving without a pass in English and Maths in 2017.
The new rules also included a ban on children getting out of their chairs without permission.
A letter banning the McDonalds cut, which is short at the side and curly and long on top, was sent out to parents on February 26.
Mr Smith drew up another document saying: ‘You never pretend to be ill to get out of work because we expect you to work through it.
‘If you feel sick we will give you a bucket. If you vomit – no problem!’
Some parents described the new rules as ‘draconian’ and withdrew their children from the school.
But many others praised the measures and said they supported the bid to turn around the school.
An unannounced Ofsted inspection on February 21 has revealed a ‘significant’ improvement in pupil behaviour at the Charter Academy (pictured)
Ofsted revealed that a large number of pupils had said they previously felt ‘unsafe at the school’.
Mr Howard added in his report: ‘They described ‘dangerous’ behaviour in corridors and during breaks from lessons, including regular fights, and said that abusive language was very common.
‘Pupils explained that, very often, serious disruption during lessons prevented them from learning anything at all.
‘Some said that in the past, they had ‘dreaded’, and in consequence sometimes avoided, coming to school because of these fears.
‘Teachers and other staff told inspectors that they often found it difficult to teach because behaviour was so poor, that they were frequently the target of verbal, and occasionally of physical abuse, and that at times they too felt unsafe.’
The Ofsted report said that the school’s records also indicated ‘a considerable decline’ in repeated disruption, more serious misconduct, particularly since the beginning of the current term.
The letter, effective from February 26, banned the ‘Meet Me At McDonalds’ haircut on all boys
Mr Howard said the number of exclusions from school and cases of internal isolation were falling, although they remained too high as ‘the behaviour of a small number of pupils has not improved.’
He added: ‘These pupils are removed from lessons when necessary so that learning continues.
‘Pupils said that typically sanctions deter poor behaviour on the part of others because they are enforced consistently and quickly.
Headteacher Mr Smith said: ‘This report clearly sets out the improvements that have taken place at Charter, because pupils and staff are now working together.
‘The Ofsted inspectors saw what we see everyday, which is our warm but strict approach making sure that pupils can learn and teachers can teach.’
The Ofsted inspectors concluded that the academy should continue to work on improving behaviour and attendance.