Wednesday, 15 April 2015


I visited Westfield Sports College in Sheffield again yesterday morning to see Andy Ireland, the headteacher, and Gary Simmons, the deputy head teacher. Their vision, passion and commitment has helped us to drive the development of 'Made in Sheffield' over the last three years.
The school is now working with us on five strands of 'Made in Sheffield'; engineering, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS programme, computer science, retail and sport, health and well-being. They have 132 student ambassadors working with us on these programmes.

It was great to meet with Andy and Gary and discuss the further development of the model, the impact the Made in Sheffield programme had already had at Westfield and how they see the programme contributing to the development of the school. No one can doubt that colleagues at Westfield have transformed the learning landscape through the powerful use of collaborative school improvement approaches and through using brilliant programmes like Made in Sheffield'.  But most importantly Andy and Gary are creating a culture of excellence built on passion, persistence, self-belief and determined, focused and deliberate practice and hard work. 

Throughout my life people have told me that things are impossible and more recently told me that we can't get every child to read by the time they are seven or eight; that we can't get every child can’t be a brilliant little learner by the time they leave primary school; that we can't get every young person the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs including English and maths by the time they are sixteen. Like me, Andy and Gary simply don't accept any of this and believe that Westfield can become a great school and they are working hard to create and support great teams working in classrooms and doing the extraordinary on a regular basis. Success doesn't come in can'ts, it comes in cans. Andy and Gary understand that they simply need to change the culture and get people to believe; to believe in themselves and to believe in their young people and their colleagues. 

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