A decade of success at Sheffield school celebrated with top accolade
Thousands of pupils have graced the corridors of Silverdale School over the last 10 years – with each receiving individual support and guidance to ensure they can reach their true potential.
During this time the school has been through major changes – becoming the founding school of what is now the Chorus Education Trust and achieving academy status to name a few.
But, the focus on the pupils and their education has remained throughout and has translated into consistently high GCSE and A-Level results in recent years.
In recognition of its achievements, Silverdale has now been named ‘Top State School of the North for the Decade’ by the Sunday Times in its latest ‘Parent Power’ guide.
Headteacher Sarah Sims, who joined Silverdale in 2016, said: "Like all schools, we’ve changed hugely and had to move with the times over the past 10 years and Silverdale has changed and adapted to what our students need.
"The curriculum has changed and the opportunities outside of the curriculum, all that has evolved and improved as time has gone on.”
Mrs Sims said the accolade was also testament to the great work being carried out across other schools in Sheffield, helping educate students who then come to study at Silverdale’s Sixth Form.
She added: "I’m really proud to be a part of such a well-established and consistently high performing establishment. It’s something for us all to be proud of because we’re a real team – whether that's the students, the teaching staff, the support staff, parents and the rest of Sheffield – this is something we should all be proud of.
"I want to say a massive thank you to students and the staff, past and present, for their work. It’s a huge number of people over a long time that have contributed to this.”
Numerous people from Sheffield and beyond have congratulated Silverdale on its achievement, providing a well-needed boost amid the challenges of Covid-19.
Dan Jarvis, the Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, and Olympic diver Freddie Woodward, a former Silverdale student himself, are among those who have sent messages for a video which will be played in form time on Friday as the news is revealed.
Assistant headteacher, Jenny Verney, has taught at Silverdale for over 13 years and credits the pupils as a key contributor in the school’s success.
She said: “It’s been a real privilege to be at Silverdale this long. Before Silverdale I’d taught in lots of different settings but never stayed in one place for more than two years and then I came here and thought I’d come home.
“I’ve taught students and watched them grow up and now have their younger siblings coming through. We are a really diverse school – we have children from many cultures, backgrounds and heritages. In any given year we usually have over 40 languages spoken among students, families and staff as well.
"It’s just a really exciting place to work. All schools are special but its lovely working with our students and watching them grow. We all grow together.”
Mrs Verney noted how students celebrated when, in 2018, Silverdale School was named Sunday Times secondary school of the year in the north.
She added: "It really meant something to them and I remember they celebrated that day. There is a real sense of pride around that.”
The accolade also recognises the dedication of teaching staff both past and present, according to deputy headteacher Samira Hussain.
"We’re in a very fortunate position in that we’re able to recruit some of the very best subject specialists in each of our curriculum areas who have a real passion for their subject and have a wealth of experience, with subject knowledge that is second to none,” she said.
"On top of that, they are passionate about giving students a great experience and make them enthusiastic to learn in every subject.
"Many schools have had to narrow their curriculum offer but we’ve tried really hard to maintain a broad and balanced curriculum so our students can learn everything from dance and drama to technology and more academic subjects.
"We have that diet of variety…that is something that is really special.”
Deputy headteacher Rich Horton thanked the dedicated team of support staff for their work in encouraging students to reach their potential.
He said: “We've got so many different types of support staff – our teaching assistants who do some amazing work with our students with special educational needs, supporting them in lessons, preparing for exams, and overcoming the barriers to actually get them into lessons in the first place.
“We’ve also got our pastoral staff, who are the first contact for a lot of students, and our inclusion team, they’re absolutely brilliant in supporting some of our most vulnerable students and those who have issues with wellbeing, both mental wellbeing and safeguarding.
"They’re always there for students and are an important cog in the wheel. Teachers do the same both in and outside the classroom but without the support staff, teachers wouldn’t be able to get the results they do with those pupils.”
Sadly, the top school accolade comes just a month after Jon Mordecai, the former chair of governors at Silverdale, passed away aged 68.
Mr Mordecai had volunteered on the governing board continuously since 1992 and is credited as playing a “central role” in shaping the secondary school into what it is today.
Alex Migali, the current chair of governors, added: “I’d like to dedicate the award to Jon because it was his vision for social justice, social mobility, for inclusivity, for aspiration and also for the school to be welcoming and a safe environment.
"This is Jon’s legacy to Silverdale and to our community.”