Sally Beevers, Broadgreen International School
Broadgreen International has invested in new sixth form facilities and is the only state school in the city to offer the International Baccalaureate qualification. We catch up with headteacher Sally Beevers to talk about life at the school.
Taking the reins at Broadgreen International School is Sally Beevers’ first headship. Having previously taught in three schools in the Wirral since starting out in 1985 she decided to make the move to Liverpool in 2010, a move that had taken some time before the correct opportunity was identified.
She says: “When I was looking for a headship I wanted to work in a school where I would be happy to send my own children and where I thought I could be part of that community and continue to move things forward. That was very important to me. It wasn’t a question of just getting a headship. It was a question of getting a headship in the right school and it took a while.
“I think I was very lucky in that I was taking over essentially a good school. Our catchment area is very diverse but that is something we celebrate.”
Diversity is certainly one of the school’s main focuses. Broadgreen International has a large catchment area and offers resource bases for children with physical disabilities, children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and deaf children, which means diversity is at the forefront of day-to-day activity in the school, says Sally.
“Part of the challenge is making sure that we keep that balance going and that we are a harmonious community within school. We’re very good at it and that is something that has been picked up on during the last couple of Ofsted inspections.”
However, Sally’s main focus since taking over has been creating an environment where pupils can easily transition from primary school to secondary school and on to the sixth form and beyond.
She says: “To me education is about preparation for life. That’s a trite thing that everyone says but again you’ll see it in action at Broadgreen. “Obviously exam results are so important because they open so many doors for students but actually what we’re also hearing from employers more and more is that it’s about experiences that children bring.”
“All our students have top quality information and guidance. We actually employ our own Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) advisor so the students all get plenty of guidance. We’re very keen on world of work days and we bring employers in to do CVs and mock interviews with the students.”
The school also holds regular trips to India and, in future will head to China to give pupils more exposure to other cultures. Sally explains: “I think children can be very insular. Liverpool is so vibrant and has so much to offer but we also try to say there is a big wide world out there and that’s what life is all about. I suppose that’s what makes us a bit more distinctive and it certainly underpins my view of what education is all about.”
Key to the schools sixth form offering is that for several years the school has offered an alternative to A Level qualifications. Broadgreen International has offered the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme since 1992 and has been embraced by Sally and her staff.
“To be honest it was something I didn’t know much about because all the schools I taught at previously were regular 6th forms and A Levels and BTEC vocational qualifications.” She says. “When you get to understand the programme it is really good and it gives our students a unique selling point. When they’re applying to university it makes their application stand out. We’ve found it’s been very successful in making sure our students can access university courses.”
Sally insists she ‘wouldn’t go back to A Levels’ because although academically challenging, the International Baccalaureate allows pupils to study a wider breadth of subjects, including vocational-style courses, and even allows pupils to experience community service as part of the course.
However, the success of the school and sixth form is not purely down to its international intentions. As with all headteachers, Sally believes having the right staff can be significant when it comes to results.
She says: “As a head you cannot be an expert in everything. It’s your job to just make sure you’ve got good people there who can advise you appropriately. You have confidence and trust in them and I’m lucky I’ve got the most fantastic staff here. They’re brilliant and so passionate about what they do. That’s unusual. That stems from the whole ethos of the school. It’s a very open and friendly school and the staff are like that as well.”
There also has to be a limit on the consultation process and Sally is not scared to make key decisions and chief among them is how to use space at the school. The school has invested in new facilities including a Bistro with a conservatory for sixth form students to use as a common room facility, while the former common room has been converted into modern study space.
“We like taking risks here.” says Sally, “If there’s all this consultation nobody is going to do anything but as long as it’s an informed risk that’s what we’re about. You do those things to make sure that things move on because you cannot stand still. But what is at the heart of what you do is the students. If you keep them at the heart of it all those decisions will be the right decisions