Learning to accomplish

Meet the Headteacher Maria Sharratt, Litherland High School

A positive experience of education is not only something that Maria Sharratt strives to deliver to Litherland High pupils, but it was also what prompted her to kickstart her own teaching
career at the same school 22 years ago.

Maria Sharratt may still be new to the top headteacher role at Litherland High, but she is no stranger to the school and its wider community. Having been educated herself in nearby Netherton, she looks back on her own school years as a time which instilled in her the importance of lifelong learning and the impact that education can have.

“What really attracted me to the job of teaching was the educational experience that I’d had, and then seeing what success in education can actually lead to,” says Maria. “I think it’s key to social mobility, and that for me was something that I wanted to be able to share with other young people and empower them to see the world of opportunities that lay beyond the school gates; that actually what you do in school can impact on your life both positively and negatively for generations to come as well, and really to foster that love of lifelong learning.”

Following her time at university in Manchester, Maria, who had often been told she would “make a good teacher”, originally decided she would take time away from education and ventured off to London in search for opportunities.

“Really my heart was in Liverpool and I wanted to come back to learn how to teach and then be able to make a difference to the lives of people where I grew up,” explains Maria, and it was when she took on her PGCE training back home in the city that she first landed a placement at Litherland High School and eventually secured a job.

“I worked here as an NQT and then basically progressed with different roles within the school as Excellence in Cities European co-ordinator, head of languages, head of specialism, assistant headteacher, deputy headteacher in charge of teaching and learning, and then headteacher,” she says.

Having studied Spanish and French, Maria’s area of teaching has been languages and it’s a subject area which she says is “very much about broadening horizons and fostering a cultural and economical understanding of how the world works and your place in that world”.

It’s also a subject that has particularly thrived at Litherland High School, which prides itself on being a ‘global learning community’. According to Maria, the school’s internationalism “permeates the school and the life of the school and has brought opportunities”.

“The school is a languages college and the languages department is very successful, they get very good results. The children are very motivated to learn languages, and all the children in the school learn Spanish GCSE, and they have the opportunity to do other languages such as French, German, Italian and Chinese as well,” she adds.

Looking beyond her familiar languages department though and to her future at the helm of the school as a whole, one of Maria’s key aims is “raising educational standards for the children”.

According to Maria, making sure that all pupils’ talents are recognised as opposed to concentrating on achieving grades is high on the agenda in a bid to create “confident” and “resilient” young people. It’s an idea that also echoes the school’s ‘Achieve by Caring’ philosophy, which adorns the front of Litherland High’s 21st Century building – a philosophy which, according to Maria, “underpins the belief that every child matters and that we will help them to achieve their very best in whatever field that may be”.

As she enters her first full academic year at the top, Maria also plans to celebrate pupils’ work by showcasing it within the school’s already “motivational” modern environment.

“There are a lot of extremely talented people throughout the school and we’ve got something called the Avenue of Stars as you walk through. That avenue will be filled with the stars’ work – the stars are the children. Everywhere you look at Litherland High School you will see a celebration of students’ work.”

Overall, Litherland High School is facing some changes as it gets the new academic year underway under Maria’s reign, starting with a new uniform – a change which is being implemented following consultation with the school’s Student Voice.

“There are a lot of changes in education and in the way performance is measured but the focus for Litherland High School is to maintain its place in the community, to build on the links within the community and to improve educational outcomes for all students with a can-do attitude right around the school, from staff to students to parents,” adds Maria.

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