Fir Vale School was opened in September 1998 and has been on a journey of school improvement to provide high quality education for the local community. The school has Business and Enterprise specialist status and belongs to a Leading Edge partnership within Sheffield. A 300 place extension was completed in 2011 providing a total of 1050 places to help meet local demand. On 1st November 2012, the school opened as an Academy – Fir Vale School Academy Trust. In 2013, students achieved the best ever results for the school with 53% of the Year 11 cohort achieving 5 A*-C including English and Maths at GCSE.
School Population: Fir Vale is a popular school and is full and oversubscribed. The majority of students are BME with a more recent intake of eastern European background; the multi ethnic intake reflecting our diverse local community. Whilst the school serves a deprived social-economic community with 37% of the students qualifying for a free school meal, the area is gradually being regenerated and our parents and carers have high levels of aspirations and expectations for their children and the school. Most of our students go on to 6th Form and academic study.
School Establishment: There are currently 115 staff in school. Teaching and Support staff alike are dedicated in supporting high quality learning outcomes for all. New staff must have the expertise and talent to play their part in this exciting school where there is a belief that education can make a fundamental difference to the life chances of young people.
The Senior Leadership Team have corporate responsibility and provide link line management for Directors and Leaders of Learning. In addition to the Headteacher, the Senior Leadership Team has a Senior Deputy Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher, four Assistant Headteachers and Business Manager. Strong emphasis is placed on further individual professional development and all middle leaders are expected to contribute to policy formation and implementation in specific curriculum areas and on whole school issues and developments. Teaching and learning which promotes high level student achievement is the core business.
Staff within the school are encouraged to take the initiative and to develop individual ideas and are expected to contribute to the wide range of extra curricular activities on offer for students, before school, after school, weekends and during school holidays.
This combined with a variety of study support sessions ensures that Fir Vale delivers a full range of extended services.
Premises: In September 2001 the school began the academic year in a new £15 million purpose built flagship school building which is a design, build and maintain concept under a Private Finance Initiative with Sheffield LA. An additional 300 place extension was completed in 2011 to accommodate an increase in the places available for Year 7 from 150 to 210 per year. This is an inspiring and stimulating building in which to work.
The curriculum is delivered in specialist suites of rooms, each teaching room being equipped with an interactive whiteboard. The state of the art premises have full ICT network access with over 200 desktop PC’s and class sets of laptops and ipads, utilising wireless connectivity. ICT resources are further enhanced following investment through the BSF ICT programme.
The Fir Vale Enterprise Centre officially opened in December 2007 and provides ‘state of the art’ facilities for student and community learning.
School Organisation: The school operates a five period (60 minutes) day and all students follow the National Curriculum. The school timetable comprises of 50 one hour lessons over a two week timetable. Students are set from year 7 and the school places a high priority on tracking student progress and ensuring the fulfilling of individuals’ potential. A guidance programme is in place and complements an extended core provision for Key Stage 4 students. An indication of our determination and commitment to raising standards and the attainment of our students.
The school encourages a positive ethos, raising students’ self esteem and confidence. There are a number of systems of rewards and incentives which acknowledge attendance, punctuality, good social and academic behaviour.
Governors and parents play an active role within the school community and this is reflected in the interest and supportive attitude of parents. This support and belief in the school’s future is also reflected in the number of students applying for entry to the school in year 7. Projected numbers continue to give encouragement and a great emphasis is placed on building strong, mutually beneficial curriculum links with the main partner primary schools. New appointees would be expected to build on and further these links.
14-19 Provision: The school has worked closely with other schools in the North East of the city in developing the 14 -19 education provision, which involves us in the cluster along with representatives from the FE/HE Sectors and the Local Authority. We see the transition from 14+ as a seamless progression suited to the needs of the individual student. The opportunities that will continue to arise from this close co-operation are boundless and will only be limited by our own lack of vision. Longley Park Sixth Form College opened in September 2004 and HillsboroughCollege opened in 2005 providing for the students high quality local post 16 provision.
Strategic Development: The school is continually seeking to raise standards and develop further within the context of innovation and diversity. As Sheffield’s first specialist school for Business and Enterprise the school plays a pivotal role in regeneration and lifelong learning. This status provides greater opportunities for our students, our community and our staff. In 2013, the school became a Microsoft IT Academy to enhance the provision for individuals and the local business community.
The school works in close collaboration with its ‘Family of Schools’ comprising of six primary schools as well as positive working partnerships and projects with other secondary schools in Sheffield.
Extended Service Activity: Fir Vale, along with the family of schools, have a joint appointment to lead on developing and delivering extended services work across the group of schools. All benefit from the employment of a team co-ordinating elements of ‘Extended Service’ provision and also providing specific support for families. A programme of community and adult learning takes place within the school.
Consideration of employment at Fir Vale School: Fir Vale School provides an exciting and fulfilling challenge to dedicated, well-qualified professionals who believe in the philosophies of school improvement and school effectiveness. A firm belief in the potential of all students to achieve is essential.
Our expectations are high, at the heart of the school are the students and our mission is to provide them all with the highest standards of teaching and the very best learning opportunities, in order to enable each and every one of them to “make their dreams a reality”.
Inspiring learners to be aspirational independent citizens who have the skills to contribute positively to, and succeed in, an ever-changing world.