MELANIE Williams considers it a privilege to lead the learning journey of students at Royds Hall High School.
As the new head of the 800-pupil Paddock school she is keen to give the students the best possible secondary education and instil in them a passion for learning and self-improvement.
She said: “Every child has one chance with us. There will always be the external pressures on schools, but we have to deliver a high-quality education and we have to keep that at the forefront of our minds and focus on their learning.”
Ms Williams’s visit to South Africa and experiences of the education system there have inspired her vision for the future at Royds Hall.
She was amazed to see barefoot children in immaculate uniforms, in classes of 72 children with no furniture or electricity, but nevertheless with a tremendous passion for learning and pride in themselves.
She said: “I want to re-create that passion for learning and self- improvement in our students here.
“We can’t always choose for them or direct them to where they may go, but we want to provide them with all the opportunities so they can make the decisions for themselves.
Her vision, and that of an outstanding staff who she describes as “strikingly committed”, are already reaping benefits for hard-working students.
Ambitious targets set for maths and science in May’s Year 9 Sats were met.
And in English the dynamic staff, led by James Ashmore, helped students achieve the department’s best-ever results.
Full marks for the writing paper were achieved by Mohsin Asghar and there was also high achievements by Stephanie Hallam, Mariam Hussain, Ujala Ahmad and Ramish Razzaq.
Achievement and investment go hand in hand at the school, a specialist science college.
Ms Williams said: “Our students are happy and confident and challenged to achieve, expressing a real pride in the school.”
Over the past 12 months the school has seen more than £200,000 invested in facilities. Four plasma screens, a new multi-media suite, classrooms with interactive whiteboards and teachers with laptops all create the foundations for academic and personal success by students.
Personalised learning packages and the new virtual learning environment, which helps teachers track students’ progress at home and school and gives students feedback, all ensure they are motivated to achieve.
A fitness suite, new trampolines and the installation of cycle shelters – to encourage more students to cycle to and from school – are all examples of the successes which helped the school a Kirklees Healthy Schools Gold Standard after two year hard work around food, PE, student and staff wellbeing and the school environment.
Sport is one way which the school has developed strong community links, including a good partnership with Paddock Cricket Club.
The school embraces the ethnic diversity of the community and enjoys strong links with parents.
Its Parents Plus scheme helps parents with the skills needed to tackle their children’s challenging adolescent years, something with which Ms Williams is familiar as a mother-of-three.
And its Partners in Progress group – effectively the school council – links students, staff and the community.
In 2006 the school was described by Ofsted inspectors as a “rapidly improving school”.
And Ms Williams said: “We are constantly updating and moving forwards, always trying to improve and never standing still.”