Head Rosemary Leeke with, from left in existing uniform, Wasima Rahman, 13, Hassan Mohamoud, 12, Thomas Corr, 12, Jabir Ali, 12, and, at front, Gina Haggett, 12, in the new uniform. Inset, the new logo
Published: 31 May, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
A SECONDARY school is changing its uniform, its buildings... and now its name as well.
South Camden Community School in Somers Town is set to rebrand itself as Regent High School as it attempts to shed what staff fear is a “negative perception” of the school rooted in its past.
The new name comes as the Charrington Road school is in the middle of a £25million redevelopment.
Headteacher Rosemary Leeke said 110 pupils who sit on the main student council and on the tutorial community councils made the recommendation about the uniform they would wear next academic year, as well as the new name, which was then seconded by governors and teachers.
Student voice coordinator Gerry Robinson, who teaches at the school, said: “There was a negative perception of the school in the community, but it made no sense because our results have gone up every year, and now we’re a very successful school. So we decided we needed a change.”
She added: “The students brainstormed dozens of names, and then eventually four were shortlisted. They were Mornington because we’re so close to Mornington Crescent, Polygon because we’re close to Polygon Road, King’s because we’re close to King’s Cross, and Regent because students thought we’ve got Regent’s Park close by, Regent’s Canal, the new Regent’s Quarter in King’s Cross and Regent’s Park Mosque, and all those landmarks circle the school.
“We then looked at what words we associated with each name, and in the end Regent came out with the most positive associations.”
Teachers had reservations about the “High School” part of the new name. “Some teachers felt it was too American,” said Ms Leeke. “But the students wanted it because they watch American television and they’ve been influenced by it, and also because of the film High School Musical, which I think had an influence. After seeing the students overwhelmingly wanted it, we had to have them heard.”
The students voted for their new uniform and shield logo, mainly because they felt their existing uniform was too similar to that of a primary school.
“We thought people couldn’t tell the difference between us and Argyle primary school even though we’re a secondary school,” said Thomas Corr, 12. “At first they ordered navy jumpers for us, but we also got a sample of grey, and as students we just preferred grey. So eventually we got them to change it to grey.”
The new uniform has black trousers, striped ties with black and the colour of the student’s school ‘community’, a grey jumper and navy blazers with the new logo.
Students on free school meals and all those in year 11 will be given financial help with half the cost of the uniform.
Wasima Rahman, 13, said: “The new logo was important for us because it showed us we were being heard, and it gave us some ownership of what we were wearing and of our school. We have the shield, which can represent safety or our arts status – because the shape of the shield is like a theatre mask.
“Then we have coloured bars going up, which represent our exam results getting better and better, and the colours represent all our different backgrounds, languages and ethnicities, and a merging of old and new values in our school.”
Last year, 49 percent of GCSE pupils achieved grades A*-C, including English and mathematics, an 11 per cent jump from the year before.
The £25million government funding will mean improved classrooms, an amphitheatre and artificial-turf sports pitches.
Improvements will be finished by September next year. The school entrance will move from Charrington Road to Chalton Street.
“The school’s keeping up with the way this area is changing,” said Ms Leeke. “There used to be a time where you’d say ‘King’s Cross’ and it didn’t have good associations. Now, that is rapidly changing.
“We’ve got Central St Martin’s just down the road, some of the best universities in the world, a connection to the rest of the world through Eurostar and our exam results are going up every year.
“We are a very successful school now, and we want to celebrate that new beginning.”