How a turn­around head gave ris­ing hem­lines short shrift

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE ACT­ING head of a trou­bled high school has wasted no time in stamp­ing his author­ity.

Paul Do­herty, 67, sent 100 girls home be­cause their skirts were too short, at least for King Solomon High School uni­forms.

Most re­turned prop­erly dressed al­most im­me­di­ately but it took a week to get ev­ery­one to com­ply.

We had a lit­tle bit of push and shove with what I call the ‘five per cent’,” he said.

“In ev­ery school, 95 per cent of stu­dents are de­light­ful, they want to learn. How­ever, there are five per cent in ev­ery school, who are ba­si­cally an­ar­chis­tic and find it dif­fi­cult to ac­cept dis­ci­pline in any form.

“The chil­dren I had real dif­fi­culty with uni­form over were later sent to me dur­ing the school day for chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour.”

Dr Do­herty was parachuted in by the lo­cal coun­cil in May to run the state-aided Ortho­dox school in Red­bridge, Es­sex, af­ter head Jo Shuter was banned by the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion for abus­ing ex­pense claims while head of her pre­vi­ous school.

Dr Do­herty, who is head of a lo­cal Catholic school, has pledged to “re­light the torch” and raise stan­dards.

King Solomon will in­crease from five to six forms of en­try this au­tumn and ap­pli­ca­tions to its six­th­form have been “en­cour­ag­ing”. The school lost its of­fi­cial “good” rat­ing last year but he be­lieves the foun­da­tions are there for aca­demic progress.

“K i n g Solomon is a good­school,” he said. “It could be out­stand­ing.”

H e h a s in­tro­duced newar­range­ments f o r a s s e s s i n g teach­ers, mon­i­tor­ing home­work and es­tab­lish­ing “zero tol­er­ance” for dis­rup­tion in class.

Over the past four years, King Solomon has had to cope with a dra­matic in­crease in in­take of chil­dren from o t h e r f a i t h s : its 863 pupils i n c l u d e 1 5 0 Mus­lims and 126 Chris­tians, w h i l e J e w s re­main a ma­jori t y a t 5 2 per cent. But all take Jewish stud­ies and Ivrit and par­ents of nonJewish chil­dren are “very sup­port­ive” of the school’s Jewish char­ac­ter, he said.

The school will bal­ance its books next year, in con­trast to a £400,000 deficit this year.

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