Updated: Sep 23, 2020
A parent at the school for many years, Mr Hirst became head teacher at Brookfield just over a year ago. Working in education for the majority of his career, he started off as an economics teacher.
Since then he has progressed to become head teacher, despite not having that goal at the start of his career. Making what he called a natural progression, Mr Hirst says he strives to be the best as possible at whatever he does.
As a local resident, Mr Hirst feels a sense of never being off duty; he regularly bumps into students and parents whilst walking his dogs, and has students as his neighbours. However, despite the constant responsibility, Mr Hirst loves where he works, saying living locally helps him feel invested in the school.
Brookfield has a reputation as a successful school, with many families wanting their children to attend. Mr Hirst drives to deliver a thriving school and hopes to continue improving the school. Whatever pathway students choose, he wants them to have the self-confidence to go into the world, and feel able to achieve with a sense of pride and success.
Being head teacher can have its pressures and throughout the past few months I think we have all learnt how to cope with stress. Mr Hirst enjoys walking his dogs and playing sport (being a loyal supporter of Barnsley football team). Most of all though, he enjoys reading, finding it an excellent way to relax.
As with probably the vast majority of people, the biggest challenge in his career has been the recent COVID-19 crisis. The strangest thing for him is having virtually no interactions with students, which he considers an important and rewarding part of his job. However, one positive from lockdown has been how hardworking the staff are, with Mr Hirst receiving many comments from parents thanking the staff for their continued support and efforts to make home learning as rewarding and engaging as possible. He says the staff have been determined to support the plans that have kept evolving through lockdown. Everything has been a team based effort and Mr Hirst takes pride in this.
Through lockdown, Brookfield school has been open to the children of keyworkers and more recently, open again to year 10 and 12 students. The partial reopening of school has been good to see and the staff of Brookfield have found it helpful to see students face to face and discuss how they are doing, instead of communicating from behind a screen.
Obviously, these times are strange and no one knows quite what to expect when school restarts full-time in September. However, Brookfield is certain that all students should be in school and doing all of their lessons, which Mr Hirst feels is important. As well as this, Mr Hirst is aiming for a smooth transition back into school. School won’t start with 100% intensity, with the sole focus on catching up on lost time. Instead, Mr Hirst wants a re-acclimatisation period for the students, so as not to cause more stress in this already stressful time. Brookfield recognises the hard work and dedication of students through lockdown and is looking forward to continuing student’s education in a more usual way next year. He says school will also identify those students who need additional catch up support and provide that support, despite it being a tall order.
When asked to describe these last four months in a few words, Mr Hirst chose humbling and gratifying. He says these words reflect the way staff, students and parents have come together and worked together throughout these challenging times. It seems clear that in Brookfield Community School the community is the most important.
Words: Aisling Rippin