In the summer of 2013, Battersea Park School was placed into special measures, despite huge improvements in exams results.

Wandsworth Times:

By Christmas of the same year, Lord Harris' academy empire confirmed the Battersea secondary school was next to be transformed.

December 2013: Battersea Park School to become an academy next September

Now, with principal David Moody at the helm, the academy, in Battersea Park Road, has ranked eighth in the country for progress made by pupils, and become the most improved school in Wandsworth.

It is the third highest place state school in the borough, climbing from bottom the year before.

Dr Moody credited his dedicated and loyal staff with the turnaround.

He said: "We have a brilliant group of staff who care about children.

"What is good about Harris is there is a model of principal and executive principal.

"It is a two person job to turn a school around.

"It is great to have that mentorship.

"Chris [Dr Tomlinson, executive principal] is really the best person in education at the moment, to have that experience to call upon makes all the difference."

Wandsworth Times:

Dr Moody said that children who were once regular truants are now staying late to study each evening.

Halls that were filled with noise as pupils ran in and out of lessons are now silent, with the hubbub reserved to class discussions on Great Expectations.

Dr Moody said: "Accountability does two things. It rewards and recognises those doing well but it is there to support those who are not doing well.

"One of the things we did was make sure the staff in front of the students were the very best they could be.

"Some like that, some did not, but student outcomes are the most important thing."

Lord Harris, who has sponsored schools across the country through the Harris Foundation, started his work when he visited a school in Crystal Palace 25 years ago and despite knowing little about education, sought to turn its fortunes around.

He said: "We have turned over 36 failing schools and have 80 per cent outstanding.

"It starts with the principals setting the standards from when we go in, getting children to respect and motivating them, giving them ambitions."

Lord Harris and Dr Moody can track the individual progress of so many of their pupils, and talk knowledgeably about those who they knew as troublemakers less than a year ago.

With a greater return on their efforts, Dr Moody said staff at the school were happy to put in the holidays, weekends and half-terms back into their work.

While Dr Moody admits that things are not perfect, a great deal of work has already turned the fortunes of hundreds of children around.