Amanda Ryan, Hillside High School

It’s all change at Hillside High School with a new headteacher at the helm. Stephen Hurrell caught up with new head Amanda Ryan to discover her plans for the high school and why her vision remains true to the school’s mission statement.

Newly appointed head teacher, Amanda Ryan says she is ‘absolutely determined’ to make a difference at Hillside High School upon taking over the reins at the Bootle school.

Having worked at the school for ten years, first as a religious education teacher and more recently as deputy head, Amanda has a vision for the school that continues to put it firmly at the centre of the community. The school mission statement is ‘Excellence in the heart of the community’ and is a real stimulus to providing the sort of education she wants all children to have.

“I want parents to be happy and confident about sending their children here. Families of Bootle and Liverpool deserve to have an outstanding  school,” she says.

Founded in 1972 when Bootle Girls’ Grammar School joined forces with Balliol County Secondary School, Hillside originally operated from two sites until 1987 when the pupils came together at the Breeze Hill building. Throughout its 40 plus years, Amanda says Hillside’s ethos has remained the same – to provide a hub for the child-centred community in which the school operates.

“We put our children at the centre of everything we do and every decision we make,” she says. “Children flourish in our school, whatever talents and strengths our pupils have we strive to find and develop these.”

In order to do so Hillside aims to offer a curriculum that is traditional with a modern twist, ensuring its pupils study the subjects that provide them with the best qualifications for higher education and the world of work.

“The core curriculum is enhanced by options which allow pupils to pick subjects which they will enjoy, flourish and succeed in,” says Amanda. “We are continually implementing new and exciting qualifications to enhance our curriculum, this year we have introduced GCSE computer science and ‘APPs for Good’ which will see our pupils studying ICT through devising their own APPs in Year 9.”

As a Science and Language College, Amanda says it’s important the school stays loyal to its specialisms. It was named a flagship specialist school in 2008 and as a result it has offered more options for pupils who want to learn science or languages.

It is one of few schools in the area to offer individual GCSEs in chemistry, biology and physics as opposed to the dual science GCSE offered elsewhere. It also allows pupils to study dual language – French and Spanish – or choose one or the other.
Amanda says she is determined to deliver a “consistently excellent education” for all pupils.

“My enthusiasm for the role will ensure that we will be successful,” she says. “My job is to push forward with rapid developments in teaching and learning that secure excellent pupil progress.”

Indeed, she is right to be optimistic as pupils at the school are already making great progress. This year’s GCSE Results saw the school receive its highest ever passes at 5A*-C grades including English and maths.

“I am so proud of the achievements of our pupils this year,” says Amanda. “They have achieved so highly and are able to go on to further education with excellent results from Hillside. The 10% increase in pupils achieving 5A*-C grades including English and maths is testimony to their hard work, the hard work of our team and the support of our community.”

Amanda recognises these improvements as being a great starting point for much more and she says the school will by no means become complacent.

“I know that we can make even more progress with our pupils this year,” she adds. “The developments in teaching and learning will continue to drive rapid improvement and challenge our pupils to reach their absolute full potential.

“We operate an open door policy at Hillside and are keen for parents to come and see our school and to find out more about what we can do for your children. Our open evening is on Thursday October 3 at 6.45pm but we would love to show parents and prospective pupils our school at any time.”

As we wrap up our interview it’s hard not to share in Amanda’s excitement for the school’s future. Indeed, her enthusiasm for Hillside and education in general is contagious.

“Teaching is in my blood,” she says. “This school is in my blood and I hope I’m in the school’s blood. I want people to be passionate about the area and passionate about the children. I believe that we are a school that can do that.”

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