THE woman now heading Colchester’s biggest secondary school says her strict new regime is already improving standards and will help it get a better Ofted rating.

Philip Morant School’s new principal, Catherine Hutley, has banned mobile phones and is punishing misbehaving pupils by isolating them from classmates or keeping them behind for twohours after school.

She is also changing its admission rules to favour children living nearby and hopes to scrap a policy which allowed children from further afield to come if they were good at technology subjects.

Miss Hutley started at the 1,600-pupil school last September.

Once regarded as one of Essex very best comprehensives, it was given a “requires improvement” rating by Ofsted in 2013.

Headteacher Roger Abo-Henriksen retired after publication of that report, leaving the school in the hands of acting head Rob James.

That same year, Philip Morant was forced to examine its anti-bullying policies after pupil Ayden Keenan-Olson, 14, committed suicide, leaving notes detailing homophobic and racist bullying he had suffered at school.

Speaking about the mobile phone ban, Miss Hutley said: “Students are allowed to keep their phonesswitched off intheir bags, but they are not allowed out.

“If they are seen with phones they are confiscated, but this is rare.

“The rationale behind this new rule is simply to encourage students to engage with their peers during social times, as well as to protect them, as far as possible, from the influence of social media while in our care.

“They have responded to this positively.”

Changes to the admissions policy are likely to mean Philip Morant will no longer offer places to 28 Year 6 pupils a year who passed a special science-based test.

The policywas a throwback to 1993, when the school got extra funding as a technology college, something from which it no longer benefits.

Miss Hutley said: “It means there will be no academic or achievement aspect involved in gaining aplace at the school.

“The admissions criteria will reflect the fact this is a truly comprehensive school.

“Also, students at feeder primary schools will now be given priority.

“This means that we can work evenmorecloselywith our feeder primary schools, to ensure the transition from primary to secondary school is as effective as it can be.”

Theadmissions policychanges are still subject to consultation but look set to come into effect next year.

Miss Hutley said she hoped the next Ofsted inspection would see the school rated “good” after its next full inspection, and rated “outstanding” by 2018.