"COME in and see for yourselves," is the message from Sam Davidson, Principal of Carter Community College, who is at the helm of a school undergoing a huge transformation.

From the smart new uniform of blue blazers and ties, to the shiny school prospectus, to the "expect the best" messages on the doors, this small school of 361 pupils is setting its sights high, with the new principal's aim "to be an outstanding school" in five years or less.

Historically Carter has not enjoyed the best reputation, and it has had something of a bumpy ride in recent years with the sudden departure of the former principal in September 2014 following declining results.

The school has Academy status and for the last two and a half years has been run by United Learning, which operates other schools in the area including Winton, Glenmoor and Bournemouth Collegiate.

With that support it is driving through change, with the focus on learning rather than behaviour, explained Ms Davidson. While disruptiveness isn't tolerated, students are welcomed into class and the drive is for them to be 'ready to learn,' she added.

"You can feel that when you walk around the school - you will see a purposeful learning environment. The comments we have had from our opening evening have all been positive - people saying 'it was not what I thought it would be' or 'it's so much better than I'd heard.' Reputation is a hard thing to alter - but we just need to get people through the doors to see the massive changes in the school."

The school has just introduced prefects and has its first head boy and head girl, as well as student subject leaders who can help shape the learning and extra curricular activities. Year seven pupils are giving coaching in 'how to learn' covering areas such as organising themselves and working in a team - which is paying dividends already, added Ms Davidson.

"We expect a lot more from our students - we expect the best from them, and from the staff as well. The children deserve the best."

With nine new teachers this year, Ms Davidson says they now have "the right staff in the right school" to take them forward.

Staff and students alike take pride in the school in every sense, she added. "We have an old building but it is always well painted with vibrant displays - we don't get graffiti or things torn off walls. We make the best of our school all the time - this school has really got heart and everyone senses that when they come in."

Offering both traditional GCSEs and BTECs in subjects such a music, childcare, IT and sport, the school provides a "balanced curriculum" said Ms Davidson. A former sports specialist school it also boasts good facilities including a all-weather multi-use games pitch and playing fields overlooking the water. School clubs include Mandarin - as requested by students - and a newly formed Taiko drum club.

Looking to the future the principal said they will strive to ensure students make "exceptional progress" and leave, not only with the "best qualifications they can achieve", but also the "confidence and resilience" they need to cope with the challenges ahead of them.