New principal sets out vision for Regis School

David Jones, left, welcomes Michael Garlick to the school CONTRIBUTED PIC
David Jones, left, welcomes Michael Garlick to the school CONTRIBUTED PIC

BASICS count for the new principal at The Regis School.

Michael Garlick said the principles of a good education were simple. He intended to ensure they were followed at the school, an academy run by United Learning, when he arrived after the Easter holiday.

“A good quality education is really basic – good quality and engaging teaching, and quality marking and feedback that enables students to understand how they are learning and how to move on to the next step.

“It’s also about a respect for each other and not simply a tolerance of differences but a celebration of those differences that we have as a population,” he said.

“I’m an unapologetic standards man. Good discipline is important from the moment students arrive in school.

“It actually starts when they get dressed to come to school and the way they are equipped for learning.

“That’s where a partnership with parents is so crucial.”

The school improved in its latest Ofsted inspection last November to just below the outstanding grade.

Mr Garlick said he would build on the work which had earned that recognition.

“I will be looking at what is excellent and doing more of it. My job is to provide an excellent education rather than an outstanding one.

“Excellence is wider than an Ofsted report and my ambition is to ensure the school is excellent in all the children do,” he said.

“That may eventually lead to an outstanding grade from an Ofsted inspection but there’s a journey to go on yet.”

Mr Garlick, 43, has been in education for 21 years. He arrives in Bognor after five years as the head teacher at Hartshill School in Nuneaton.

“It wasn’t just the high quality education for the children that excited me but also the high quality provision for the community that is on the site here,” he said.

“I’m also a Christian and it’s important to me the values and morals of United Learning, which sponsor the school, are based on the Christian faith.”

A transformation

Departing principal David Jones will leave a Bognor Regis school transformed from the day he arrived.

Mr Jones has overseen dramatic changes which have led to The Regis School being highly rated by Ofsted and with facilities he dubbed when they opened as the ‘best in Europe’.

Today (Friday, April 4) will be his final day after six years and two terms in charge.

A retirement at his Climping home beckons of travelling, volunteering and time with his grandchildren.

But not before he reflected on his leadership which has enabled the school to have achieved so much.

“The community is fantastically served by this campus with a new secondary school, new primary school, the new Phoenix Centre and an updated Arena sports centre with its swimming pool.

“There is a debate about whether buildings make a difference to education.

“There is very powerful evidence from this one that it has made a significant difference in all sorts of ways.

“The feedback from the visitors to the school is that it is ordered and that the students go about their business in a purposeful way.

“Being on the split site before, it was harder to achieve that. It was a very challenging situation to manage.”

Raising morale

The school had been based on two campuses for decades when Mr Jones arrived. The upper school was on Westloats Lane and the lower school off Pevensey Road. The only direct route between them was a walk across the playing fields.

It was then called Bognor Regis Community College and had only been out of special measures imposed by Ofsted for two years.

“It was emerging from very difficult times,” Mr Jones, 60, said.

“That had unavoidably affected moral among the staff and the perception of the school in the community. It had the expectation of a new school but that was three years away.”

He raised morale, raised standards and planned for the £40m new building that was getting ready to emerge.

He also had to enagage with students’ parents to ensure they understood the reasons for the changes and were as supportive as the governors were.

Once in the new school in September, 2010, the governors and Mr Jones became an academy with the backing of United Learning.

“United Learning very much reflected our views and were very supportive of where we wanted to go. Being an academy has made a big difference to us.

“That’s reflected in the help we get which a local authority is no longer able to provide,” said Mr Jones.

“We get no interference in day to day teaching but, at a strategic level, United Learning is able to provide examples of best practice from around the country rather than just the county.”

Mr Jones leaves as the school is growing for the first time in many years. It will expand from seven entry forms to nine this September to absorb an extra 50 students a year.

This will take its total number to 1,450 – with room for a further 350.