Education reporter HAZEL ETTIENNE takes a look at a forward-looking grammar school
IT may have an imposing 19th century facade and lengthy history, but The Crossley Heath School is far from being old-fashioned.
With a motto of “Building on Tradition – Looking to the Future” this forward looking and innovative school with specialist language status aims to provide a world-class education for its 1,060 students, of which 250 attend the sixth form.
Crossley Heath is a selective state grammar school with prospective students sitting entrance exams in December.
It is situated in the Savile Park area of Halifax, but almost a quarter (258) come from the Huddersfield and Brighouse areas.
Its aims is to develop both the academic and social talents of students and create young people with leadership and social skills as well as academic qualifications which equip them for the future.
Headteacher Helen Gaunt said: “In the past grammar schools were isolated because they were considered elitist but our main aim is to help individual students develop to their full capacity.
“The students who leave here should be articulate and confident enough to give a presentation to a large group of people and our opportunities for leadership and responsibilities in school ensure they could become confident ambassadors of the future.”
Leadership development is a key focus at the school for both staff and pupils. It is one of only 14 nationwide to form part of the National College for School Leadership and Youth Sports Trust programme.
It is sharing its expertise and good practice with schools across Calderdale to develop strong leaders of the future and students with strong voices and opinions.
Year 10 student Usman Ali represents the school on the national Youth parliament and a talk which he gave recently in Geneva was well-received.
The school has four traditional houses – Kings, Queens, Porter and Savile and prefects and house leaders take on responsibilities in the form of organising competitions, sports, drama and debating events and a house music competition.
The school has strong community links, which it continually extends.
It also extends the hand of friendship worldwide with its strong links with a variety of countries which students visit.
Its confident young leaders also play a major role in organising fundraising events and last year alone raised £10,000.
One highlight of the school year so far has been the Day of Challenges, where pupils have found out more about the area in which they study and learned new skills.
This took many forms including gardening at St Augustine’s Church, organising games at a nearby centre for people with learning disabilities, writing to soldiers, developing the Crossley Heath Garden, sporting activities, acting and radio workshops.
Personalising the curriculum, one of the government’s key phrases, is the key to everything which the school does to ensure every child is given as many opportunities as possible to succeed.
Crossley Heath has some of the best young sports people in the area, but only two Victorian gyms in which they can extend their talents.
A £2.3m project has been launched to create a new facility, which will also include changing facilities, two classrooms, tutorial room and fitness suite.
When completed at the end of next year, the facilities will also be available for community and primary school use.
This will include offering extensive language tuition courses for the community by the school’s experienced language department.
There is still £300,000 to raise. The successful Day of Challenges helped with fundraising.
On October 3 there will be a dinner and auction at Bowers Mill, Barkisland, which will be supported by former pupils commentator Brian Moore, Emmerdale actor Paul Opacic and members of the Calendar Girls.
Miss Gaunt added: “We believe our children deserve the same standards as any other in the district.
“We are preparing them for the real world and want to ensure they contribute to society and every individual student develops to their full capacity.”