School focus: Westfield School

Eloise Simpson, Josh Kirk, Harry Loukes and Harmony Kirby
Eloise Simpson, Josh Kirk, Harry Loukes and Harmony Kirby
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Pupils at Westfield School aren't just expected to achieve, they are expected to excel.

That is the message coming from the school's new headteacher Joe Birkbeck, who has made changes since arriving in September.

Headteacher Joe Birkbeck

Headteacher Joe Birkbeck

He said: "I am highly ambitious for every student at Westfield, and the school as a whole.

"Achieving in line with national averages is not enough - my aim is for Westfield to become an outstanding school.

"Given the excellent foundations we have - of being a supportive, inclusive school - I am sure this can happen.

"It is this belief in our school, and in every child here, that will drives changes forward.

Josh Cousins from year 9 making a swiss roll

Josh Cousins from year 9 making a swiss roll

"Because I believe every child has the right to fulfil their dreams, and that schools should be fundamental to making that happen."

Mr Birkbeck was appointed to turn the school's poor performance around since it was put into special measures earlier this year.

The school joined Chorus Education Trust - headed by Silverdale School - and is going from strength to strength under Mr Birkbeck's leadership.

The leadership team has been altered to become better in line with the school's new priorities - excellent outcomes, excellent teaching and learning, excellent leadership and highest expectations of attitudes to learning - and work is being closely done with the trust.

"We have set ourselves ambitious priorities," said Mr Birkbeck. "We need to have these high expectations because students step up to them."

"The pupils are so honest and down to earth. They are great communicators and just want to do their best,

"They are honest with us about how we can improve and work with them."

He added: "Our students deserve that teachers have high expectations of them.

"That is something we are really trying to push and I hope that students have felt a tangible change since September.

"We have high expectations of their learning and extra curricular learning.

"A massive strength is how much the students want to do well and achieve. They take the opportunities given to them."

Students' dedicated to learning was demonstrated recently when 138 pupils turned up after school to do extra learning in English, while dozens came to a masterclass to do work on further maths, which includes GCSE and A-Level learning.

The school is keen to develop all aspects of students and gives them change to develop them in its hall ambassador and student leadership schemes.

When pupils arrive at the school they go into one of four halls - Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Don - with each have ambassadors that help is assemblies and with other duties around school.

The student leadership scheme involves students helping at event in school and with the school's wider family of schools.

Mr Birkbeck said: "Our sports leaders help teach sport at our family of schools.

"Outside the sporting arena they are running team building days with activities they have developed with children in our family of schools."

Year 11 sport leader Eloise Simpson, aged 15, said: "We have leaders in different subjects - sports, art and English for example.

"They help out students and help out the department.

"I've been into primary schools and help run sports event with them."

Ambassador Harmony Kirby, 16, said: "Another thing we do is when year sixes come into visit you help show parents around the school."Josh Kirk, aged 15, added: "

The school is also involved in the The Cutlers' Better Learners Better Workers Ambassadors, which connects an employment sector with the school.

Ambassador Josh Kirk, 15, is part of the scheme's engineering programme.

He said: "You have to put in an application and go through and interview to be part of the scheme - just like a job interview.

"You go away on a lot of extra curricular trips.

"The school allows you to do good things that you can put on your CVs. There is lots of extra curricular stuff that you can take part in to build your CV up."

Josh, and fellow pupil Thomas Rose, recently received praise for their talk on their involvement in the programme and their passion from engineering at an employers forum at the Olympic Legacy Park.

Mr Birkbeck spoke of his pride at receiving a letter from a representative of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce about the professionalism, passion and how well they represented the school.

Sport is a subject at the school that all staff and students are proud of.

The school's PE department has been named the PE department of the year in Sheffield and a host of former pupils have gone on to sporting success.

These include Ellie Roebuck, goalkeeper for Manchester City and England under 19s women's team and freestyle skiers Katie and Molly Summerhayes, who are due to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Current pupil Owen Bradshaw has recently become under 13 British champion in race walker after only taking part in the sport for the first time when he was in year six.

Mr Birkbeck is keen to keep developing and improving, especially the school's link with primary schools and communication with parents.

Mr Birkbeck said: "The parents and community have been really welcoming and have given us lots of feedback.

"Improving communication with our parents is something that we really need to get right.

"As a parent you want to know how your child is progressing and the exciting things happening in school."