A new uniform is one of the many changes being introduced to raise standards at the new-look Downham Academy.
The former High School and College, which officially became an academy in the summer, has replaced the “casual” sweatshirts and trousers with smart shirts, ties and blazers in a bid to herald a new era.
However, officials have admitted that some students were sent home at the start of the new term for not following the new regulations.
But principal Jon Ford said all pupils were now complying with the new rules and insisted the uniform was a symbol of the wider changes being made at the school.
He said: “They have stopped looking like primary school pupils and now look like mature young adults.
“We are trying to help them to aspire to being more mature.
“I have had lots of positive comments from the community, who say it is nice to see the pupils looking smart.
He added: “The academy is different to the high school and people are starting to pick up on that.”
The team has also transformed cloakrooms into learning zones and improved its canteen.
The school, which became an academy in July, was placed into special measures by Ofsted inspectors in 2012.
The teaching team has also introduced “vertical” forms, which are made up of pupils from Years 7 to 13, and the school houses are now named after continents.
A series of building projects have been undertaken during the summer, such as the new learning zones.
The school’s canteen has also been redecorated and 1950s American diner-style booths have been installed.
The menu has also been refreshed with the addition of salad and noodle bars.
Extra fencing has been added to the school site and alterations have been made to the entrance.
Mr Ford said: “It really is a new beginning for the school.”