Our School, BBC: How demand has grown for places at Firth Park Academy Sheffield

After being featured twice on national television in a hit education programme, a Sheffield secondary school has continued to thrive beyond the classrooms.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Thursday, 14th October 2021, 3:20 pm

Firth Park Academy in Shiregreen was first featured in the BBC programme Our School in 2016, and it has now been spotlighted once more five years later.

The show focuses on the school, which is known for its diversity, to show the country what life is like as children transition into year seven of their education.

Shot in a 'fly-on-the-wall' style, the series captures the everyday ups and downs of pupils and staff as they progress through an academic year.

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Firth park Academy stars in the BBC TV series Our School. Pupils (from left) Raymond Sekanjako, Mariam Basubi , Aiza Khan and Blake Swift

The filming took place in September last year, when schools reopened under strict measures during lockdown.

Headteacher Dean Jones said that after being invited twice to go on television shows the school is getting recognised for its 'remarkable' achievement amid the diversity the institution has to offer.

He said: "In the Firth Park family, we are proud of our diversity in all of its facets; ethnicity, religion, sexuality and gender identity.

"And to have a TV company to feature us means we must be the one that they can identify with and the whole country can identify with.”

Firth Park Academy headteacher, Dean Jones

The children who took part in the filming also stated that the experience was unlike any other, since they were able to do activities that they would not ordinarily be able to do in their regular classes.

Mariam Basubi, a year nine pupil, said: "It was fun...Seeing a lot of cameras around made me nervous, but I just went for it.

"The best part was when we did the activities when we were put in bubbles, such as football. That was a nice experience as it was my first time playing massive football.”

Aiza Khan, also in year nine, agreed, saying: "I actually do miss filming quite a lot because I like getting out of lesson and I like doing things I don't normally do.

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq is one of the presenters who visited Firth Park Academy in Sheffield to film BBC show Our School.

"I think the best part was when I got to meet new people in Year 7 and bonded with my teachers as well as learned more about the school.

"It also kind of portrays the school in a different way because you get to do all this fun stuff”

But for year nine pupil Raymond Sekanjako, the most enjoyable experience about being part of the show was 'messing around in lessons'.

"I learned that if you behave in year seven, you can get away with stuff in year eight," he laughed.

Pupils and staff from Sheffield's Firth Park Academy will star in the seventh series of the BBC programme, which follows the journey of students in Year 7.

Mr Jones said the school, which has been rated 'good' by education watchdog Ofsted in two consecutive inspections, said the school has had a 'wonderful journey' before it got to where it is now.

He said: "We weren't the school of choice for parents back in 2014-2015. Only 45 per cent of parents chose this school, the rest had no other choice.

"Now we have a waiting list of children and families wanting places here at the school."

The first 10 episodes aired on Monday, September 6 to Friday, September 17 (Monday to Friday, 10:15am on CBBC). They are all available on iPlayer.

The second 10 will air in early January, with exact date to be confirmed, but it will be Monday to Friday across two weeks, also available on iPlayer.