Strolling through woodland and open countryside, with a Grade II listed building in the grounds, you could be at a stately home or National Trust property.
But this is Westwood College, a mixed high school in Leek with proud historical roots and a deep sense of community. The school is part of the three-tier system used in Leek, admitting pupils in year nine.
Due to celebrate its centenary year in 2021-2022, Westwood College is centred around an old manor house built in the 17th Century, once lived in by the Davenport family, famous Stoke-on-Trent potters.
The house was built over an existing house that is said to have belonged to one of Henry VIII’s favourite Knights, Francis Talbot.
Headteacher Matt Taylor has an extra special link to the school – not only is he head of the 800 student college, but was once a student there himself.
He knows the town, he knows its people and he has a passionate belief in Westwood’s values for independence and responsibility.
With its motto of Respect, Resilience, Ambition, Pride, the school has always had an unswerving commitment to ensuring all the students have an equal chance to make good use of the education that the school has offered, in order to help them choose their future patterns of life and take full advantage of their opportunities in society.
To do this, the school has always sought to develop personal confidence, the ability to make and sustain fulfilling relationships, flexibility, as well as the skills for the world of work.
Westwood – the history
The Westwood College Campus is divided into two parts known as Old Hall, the old manor house, and New Hall, which opened in 1963. In addition to this, the site features Old House, accommodating the Music and Health and Social Care Departments, the Sixth Form Diner, the English Block and a wide range of sporting facilities.
All of this is situated in 10 acres of beautiful parkland, featuring woods, wildflower meadows and even a Victorian Garden. This garden was restored back to its former glory in recent years and although the original well and fountain remain, they are now fenced off to prevent students falling in.
Westwood College prides itself on the broad curriculum that all students are offered as well as the excellent results they achieve. A former arts specialist college, Westwood believes the arts have an important role to play in education. At a time when schools are under increasing pressure to stick to budgets, meaning many arts subjects are being lost, Westwood still provides a wide range of subjects including art, photography, design, music, drama and media studies.
To give sixth form students the broadest possible range of subjects post-GCSE, Westwood enjoys a shared sixth form with neighbouring Leek High School.
The vast majority of students will study at a single campus, though free transport is available for those students who study courses at both.
Set in acres of stunning parkland, the Westwood College campus is an inspirational place to study. This campus has beautiful sixth form study facilities, formal Victorian gardens, plenty of social space and a sense of freedom unique to Westwood. With approximately 250 sixth form students on site, the Sixth Form at Westwood is large enough to offer a full range of courses, yet still small enough to provide the care, personalised advice and tutorial support you need to be sure of success.
Alongside superb sporting facilities, the Leek campus boasts extensive grounds, a dedicated sixth form computer suite and two sixth form study rooms, also with IT facilities. A small sixth form body means that there is a very personal feel to the Leek campus.
A wide range of A Level and BTEC courses are taught by passionate subject specialists, all experienced in supporting students to secure excellent outcomes.
A core belief by all staff is that progression after sixth form is about so much more than just qualifications and therefore the school prides itself on the wider opportunities offered to students and the superb quality of pastoral care.
The Sixth Form prides itself in recognising and maximising the huge potential in our young people, helping them to become everything they can be.
Life in the Sixth Form is about more than the courses a student follows. The recipe for success is simple; the highest expectations of each student and the highest quality teaching, alongside outstanding personalised care, guidance and tutorial support, all within a beautiful environment where students thrive.
Teaching independence and responsibility
And it’s not just the Sixth Form students who are given the independence to learn and thrive. Students entering Westwood in year nine are given responsibility for themselves very early on and are expected to respect and take advantage of the wonderful setting in which the school is situated.
Students play an important role in the key decisions made by the school. The Student Council in lower school meets regularly to discuss to review standards and to discuss the advancements students wish to see. This is complemented by a Sixth Form students’ union, whose members play key roles in representing the views of the wider student body and in shaping the direction of Sixth Form developments.