New Morecambe High head vows to turn around ailing school
New Morecambe High head Vicki Michael has vowed to turn the fortunes of the school around over the next 18 months.
Mrs Michael was drafted in from Carnforth High to manage the school until July 2019 amid concerns over standards.
Just two days into her tenure, Ofsted inspectors arrived at the Dallam Avenue school, with a report due out later this month.
The school’s last full Ofsted two years ago saw a “requiring improvement” result.
However, Mrs Michael said that despite the school going through a difficult period, she is confident it can be put back on an even keel within the next 18 months.
Mrs Michael – who continues to oversee Carnforth High in addition to her role in Morecambe – will be drawing on the resources of staff at Carnforth High and Ripley St Thomas to support her work.
By September, a new curriculum and behaviour policy will be in place, and also on the agenda will be much-needed investment in the building.
“The school will be in a far stronger place by September but it will take 18 months to get it up to scratch,” Mrs Michael said.
“We want a good learning environment; the building is not in the best state of repair, and we want to show that we care and we want to give the pupils the best resources.
“We will also look at the behaviour of the young people – it’s not awful, and some of it is just caused by the size of the building, but the young people are not habitually kind to each other.
“We will be bringing in a restorative justice process, and will bring in more pastoral care staff to deal with it.
“The teaching and learning also needs development. I have seen some very good practice but it’s a very big school and we need to do some work on teaching and learning.
“The staff are very keen, they have been very welcoming and very positive.
“It has been a difficult time but so far they are welcoming the clarity and directions.
“There are already lots of positive things happening here; we have a school production of Made in Dagenham and some of the pupils are taking part in a robotics competition with other schools.
“The job for me is sorting out the core teaching and learning in the classroom to match all the extra-curricular things.”
Last month Mrs Michael held at parents’ forum where she heard emotional stories about problems some of the pupils were having, including behavioural and bullying issues.
“I wanted to improve communication with parents,” she said.
“I listened to them for two hours. I heard their frustrations and concerns. Part of their concern is that people aren’t listening or communicating.
“I have a big heart and it’s always been for disadvantaged and less abled children.
“Some things are hard to hear but you have to acknowledge it, and it’s my job to sort it.
“I was very frank about what I think the issues are.
“There are some young people who are getting too many chances and some parents are concerned about that.
“We will be becoming more assertive, and there will be more work with other agencies to deal with the needs of the young people at the school.”
Mrs Michael also plans to hold a pupils’ forum similar to the meeting for parents.
“The young people of Morecambe can get a bad press in the community but as a group they are lovely,” she said. “They are just like the kids in any other school.
“Their aspirations are the same, we just need to give them a better education. It’s about giving them the opportunity to do something.
“The school has got to make a difference to the life chances of the young people here.”
Mrs Michael said while she acknowledges the hard work ahead, she is relishing the challenge.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “I have got a lot of support and it’s perfectly doable in 18 months.
“I like a challenge; it will be tough but I like that.”