IT SOUNDS like every pupil's dream, but being given a say in picking their teachers has helped transform the fortunes of Cranford Community College.

Children and teachers at the secondary school in Cranford High Street were celebrating this week after receiving a glowing Ofsted report.

Inspectors rated the school as good, reserving particular praise for the way youngsters are encouraged to think for themselves.

The latest report marks a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the school, which was struggling when headteacher Kevin Prunty took the reins in 2002.

Since then - when inspectors rated the school merely 'satisfactory' - the number of pupils gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE has nearly doubled to 68 per cent, earning Cranford a place among the country's 100 most-improved schools.

A delighted Mr Prunty congratulated the efforts of everyone involved.

"We've focused on recruiting the highest quality teachers and ensuring we retain them," he said. "We've worked closely with pupils from traditionally lower-achieving communities and we've encouraged all students to get involved in the decision-making."

Such is the power handed to students, no members of staff can be recruited unless they get the thumbs up from pupils sitting in on their interview.

Inspectors, who visited Cranford earlier this year, rated it 'good' or 'excellent' in each of the five areas in which it was assessed.

They were particularly impressed with the school's 'caring ethos' and the way pupils are encouraged to get involved with the community by helping out at nearby primary schools and sports clubs.

However, there were a few areas in which they felt the school could improve.

Attendance by sixth-formers remains poor, they said, and teachers need to set more challenging targets for the highest-achieving students.