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I’ll drive up standards... it’s what we all want
A NEW era has dawned for Belfairs High School with a new principal taking the reins with an ambitious vision to make it an outstanding school within five years.
Bev Williams, who took over as principal of the Leigh school at the start of term, has set out her plans to improve the academy’s Ofsted rating from good to outstanding, by 2017.
Mrs Williams is determined to build on the firm foundations set by former head John Duprey, who last year oversaw the school’s move into a new, state-of-the-art £31million building. Her abiding aim is to ensure pupils and staff meet their potential.
She said: “My vision is to be an outstanding academy within five years. That and to make sure all the children aspire to what they can be are my ultimate aims.
“All the foundations are here. Now we are ready to go on that journey to achieve it.”
The married mother-of-two, who was previously vice-principal of an academy in Wolverhampton, said she will drive up teaching standards and guide pupils to achieve the best they can. She expects all teaching to be good or outstanding and teachers will be given help to develop professionally.
The school was made an academy last term, giving it freedom to tweak the curriculum. Mrs Williams plans to develop it for the English baccalaureate, a standard met by pupils who achieve GCSE grade C or higher in English, maths, the sciences, a modern language and history or geography. But the new principal emphasised helping all pupils achieve their potential, whatever their level, and said teaching values and providing extra-curricular activities was as important as academic performance. She said: “It’s about stretching and challenging our children. That’s what they want, that’s what the parents want and that’s what we want. “There will be a personal curriculum so every child can achieve their goals.”
There will be an inauguration ceremony this week, in which pupils will walk up to a stage as high school pupils and off stage as academy pupils. Mrs Williams said discipline was key to pupil’s achieving. A total of 47 pupils were asked to change their shoes on the first day of term as they failed to meet the academy’s uniform policy. Staff members guard the gates as pupils arrive and leave, reminding them to tuck in shirts, do up buttons and roll down skirts.
The “no-nonsense” policy appears to be paying dividends, with no pupils having to be reminded of the policy since day one. As a new headteacher, Mrs Williams wants to break down barriers with parents, local businesses and other schools. Teachers will be given the opportunity to observe lessons in other schools and Belfairs will be open to staff from other schools.
About 80 pupils met Mrs Williams, governors and other senior staff for coffee and cake last Monday and Tuesday. The academy has invited 150 local businesses to meet staff on Thursday. Mrs Williams, 46, who has two grown-up children, has moved to Leigh with her husband, who is also a teacher. She said: “It’s just a stunning place to live. I feel so lucky to be living here. It’s amazing.”
Robin Marcus, chairman of the board of governors, said: “We saw someone who will be firm but fair and will help us develop the improvements in the school. “With her approach and her ideas for improving teaching and learning, she will take it to the next level.”