The year 2023 represents an important milestone in the school’s history as we are delighted to be celebrating 100 wonderful years of Westholme!
Our centenary heralds a year filled with celebration and reflection on our remarkable history. In 1923, Emily Singleton pioneered a new type of education in Blackburn. The visionary grit, determination and aspiration shown by her has been a defining characteristic of all Westholmian boys and girls throughout the last century.
We are delighted to announce that we have been selected as a finalist for the Independent Schools of the Year Award 2023 for our Careers Programme.
On Thursday morning we saw our INSPIRED Sixth Form A Level students receive their grades, and there were some fantastic achievements along the way. Well done to all of our students for their hard work and determination through out the year and we wish them all of the best for their future endeavours!
Find out about their success stories below and what our members of staff have had to say on the performances this year by clicking on the dropdowns and viewing the image gallery below:
INSPIRED A Level Success!
A huge congratulations to all our INSPIRED students! We commend our Centenary A Level students on their fantastic achievements today, especially as this was their first time through a public examination series having not sat GCSEs in the usual way due to the pandemic.
With the conscious decision to dramatically deflate grades nationally this year, we are thrilled to report that at Westholme, nearly a quarter of our students achieved at least 2 A*/A grades and over a third achieved grade A or above. Our count of A*/A grades at Westholme this year is nearly double that compared with our 2019 results.
As the A Level grade boundaries have returned to those more akin to 2019, we are delighted with this dramatic increase in Westholme’s top grades. This is a testament to the dynamic teaching and our incredible staff who inspire our students every day. I would like to thank all the teaching staff for their unparalleled commitment and dedication, going over and above as always, to ensure our students achieve the brilliant grades they wholeheartedly deserve.
Westholme has been shortlisted again for Independent School of the Year owing to our unrivalled holistic excellence. This is the second year in a row that we have been nominated for this prestigious award and recognised nationally for providing an INSPIRED Sixth Form careers experience rooted in the acquisition of the 21st century essential skills imperative for the workplace. We have achieved remarkable success this year with top Russell Group university acceptances and also Year 13 students receiving as many as 7 Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship places to choose from. This is an outstanding accomplishment.
This year’s destinations include the University of Oxford, University of Manchester, University of Durham, University of York and University of Liverpool. Our determined students have secured coveted Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships at the BBC, KPMG, PwC, Jaguar Land Rover, Civil Service, Sellafield and ARUP. Our leavers’ industries of choice include: Medicine; Law; Architecture; Classics; Graphic Design; Performing Arts; Midwifery and Engineering.
Please join me in congratulating some exceptional academic performances from this year’s Centenary graduates including: Daniel Kirkwood and Harry Smith (both scooping 4 A*s); Edward Forsyth (2 A*s and 1 A); Adam Roberts and Amy Dixon (both achieving 1 A* and 2 As) and Elliot Andrews and Oliver Spendlove (3 As). All our students this year graduate as personable, well-rounded and delightful young adults. It has been my absolute pleasure getting to know these wonderful young people over the past few years and I wish them every success in the future. Being a Westholmian is more than receiving grades at A Level; it is a lifelong journey, built on solid foundations that inculcate courtesy, aspiration and success. In the words of Henry Ford, ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.’ I have absolutely no doubt that all our Centenary graduates will positively contribute to our society and the wider world we live in and I look forward to hearing all about their incredible triumphs in years to come!
I am immensely proud of our INSPIRED Sixth Form class of 2023.
Not only do they embark upon their futures beyond Westholme with outstanding A Level results, the culmination of hard work, dedication, and absolute rigour academically, but they also move on ready for the world in every regard. It has been our great pleasure to see them flourish as individuals, developing their skills to ensure they are leaders in their field, fully equipped to take on all challenges. Their camaraderie as a group these last two years demonstrates their close bond and love for the school, supporting each other and fully embracing life in our INSPIRED Sixth Form, but it has also been a delight to see them as senior role models for our younger students, true leaders in every way.
I offer my congratulations to every student and complete gratitude for your character, commitment, and contributions to the school. You define the essence of a Westholme student and we look forward to seeing your continued successes on the next stage of your journey.
Head of INSPIRED Sixth Form
Congratulations to all of our students on their achievements and results today. These results reflect their hard work and efforts, especially as this year’s A Level examinations were students’ first experience of sitting and preparing for external, public examinations: a factor which cannot be underestimated.
However, Year 13 dealt with this extra challenge with determination and resilience. We are proud of each and every one of them today, as we value and celebrate their progress and achievement; as ever, in every cohort, students’ starting points and journeys are different but what is consistent for all of our Year 13 students is the myriad of exciting openings and new chapters that await them. I have every confidence that our Year 13 students leave our INSPIRED Sixth Form fully equipped with the skills and competence to achieve continued success, whether that is on coveted Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships or University courses. Once again, congratulations to all: enjoy the celebrations!
Senior Academic Assistant Head
Careers and Apprenticeships
As we celebrate our school centenary year, we are immensely proud that a hundred years of outstanding independent education and careers support is marked by us having our most successful year ever for Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship applications. Our largest ever cohort of students have both applied for and received apprenticeship offers, reflecting our ongoing commitment to educating students about alternative routes into the work place as they journey through school.
Ten students have successfully secured prestigious degree level apprenticeships with a range of multi-national companies including PwC, ARUP, BBC and KPMG in disciplines such as Accounting, Engineering and Technology. Two of our students were highly sought after, with multiple offers available to them, being able to select which of the numerous offers they would like to pursue.
Many congratulations to our Year 13 student apprentices who have demonstrated their outstanding academic knowledge together with their 21st century skills to successfully complete the rigorous and challenging stages of the apprenticeship recruitment process. They have beaten off stiff competition from students across the country in order to stand out from the crowd and be selected for these fantastic opportunities.
We wish you every success in your new roles and look forward to welcoming you back to Westholme to inspire our current students to follow in your footsteps to become the next apprentices.
Head of Careers
Sky’s the limit for Adam
Congratulations to Adam who achieved A*AA in his A Level results allowing him to study a Degree Apprenticeship in Aerospace Engineering. Adam said: “I am so pleased with my results. I was a bit concerned with all the news about grade boundaries being tougher this year, but I also knew how hard I’d worked and how well Westholme had prepared us all. This a real weight off my shoulders. It’s amazing.”
Adam relished his time at Westholme and all the opportunities an independent school education offered him. Adam particularly valued the engineering enrichments and enjoyed participating in projects such as the electric car build and ‘walking on water’. He found the many extra-curricular and enrichment activities he undertook to be an extremely useful way to find his footing in a new school as well as valued opportunities to socialise.
“My education was elevated by the opportunities presented to me, the environment I learnt in, the equipment and support staff available to me and also the people who surrounded me every day. You are a product of your environment and I can say the facilities and people who go to Westholme played a large role in making my time at INSPIRED Sixth Form enjoyable as well as contributing to my success. I was given a more intimate level of tuition than at a large state college, yet still felt I had a bounty of freedoms and liberties as an INSPIRED Sixth Form student.”
During his time at Westholme, Adam valued the support provided to develop students into more well rounded young adults through the various leadership opportunities, enrichment activities, trips and competitions, career advice and support, team building, the alumni network, and support from older students. “I valued the small, every day things which became normal however, had a large impact over students’ experiences at Westholme,” added Adam.
Purr-fect day for future vet Amy
Congratulations to Amy Dixon who is looking forward to pursuing a career she has always dreamed of. Amy achieved an A* in Biology and As in Chemistry and Physical Education in her A Level results and will go on to study Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at UCLan in Preston.
Amy said: “I am so pleased with my results. I worked so hard, but it has paid off and now I can go and study to be a vet, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.” Her passion for the biological sciences has been evident throughout her time at Westholme Seniors. Amy competed with 23,000 entrants to secure Bronze
in the Royal Society of Biology’s Biology Challenge whilst she was preparing for her GCSEs. Her hard work and passion for Biology continued as she progressed into the INSPIRED Sixth Form, allowing her to obtain such incredible A-Level results and secure a place on such a competitive course.
An avid sports player, Amy picked up a hockey stick at 3 years of age and represented School throughout her time at Westholme. Not only has she committed to a range of sports at Westholme, including netball and hockey, she also shared her passion for sports as Sports Captain. Her role involved dedicating her time to help coach and inspire younger students, work ‘behind-the-scenes’ at our numerous sports matches, tournaments, and activities, as well as helping to Purr-fect day for future vet Amy organise events such as the House Cross-Country and Sports Awards Evening. She was selected for the Fylde Performance Centre for England Hockey and obtained a Diploma in Sporting Excellence from Loughborough College.
Doctor’s orders for Daniel
Daniel is looking forward to a career in Medicine after achieving four A*s in his A Levels. Daniel is off to study Medicine at Lancaster Medical School – his first choice – after achieving the A* grades in all four subjects, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths at Westholme’s INSPIRED Sixth Form.
Despite the national news of the grade boundaries, he said: “I’m really happy with my results. They’re amazing – especially given how high above the grade boundaries they were.”
When asked about his future career aspirations, Daniel explained he is looking into the role of general
practitioner. Daniel has shared his knowledge and love for the sciences with younger students at the school. As Science Captain, he has helped numerous GCSE and KS3 students with Maths and Science by supporting the running of subject clinics during lunchtimes throughout the year.
Daniel’s involvement extends beyond his subjects, all the way to the Croston Theatre stage where he played saxophone as part of the school orchestra during numerous Westholme concerts and productions. He is also involved in the sports, and enjoys playing cricket when not involved in academics.
Speaking about his highlights at Westholme School, he said: “I’ve been a student here since Year 7 and the support of the teachers and the close-knit community has helped me achieve these results.”
Congratulations to Edward who achieved a remarkable A*A*A in his A Level results.
After all of his hard work and meticulous preparation he is taking a gap year to gain valuable work experience, before applying to do medicine next year after achieving A*’s in both Biology and Art, and an A in Chemistry.
Edward said: “I’m really happy. These results are what I’d hoped and worked so hard for. I tried to not let the speculation about grade boundaries worry me too much. There was nothing I could do about that after all, but luckily, I’ve got exactly what I wanted.”
Edward has been at Westholme since Year 7 and, in that time, we have witnessed his incredible talents throughout many facets of school life. An accomplished and dedicated pianist, he has captivated many an audience in the Croston Theatre and we have all enjoyed the opportunity to witness his creativity and skill in his artwork and sculptures, which are currently on display in the Rouse building inspiring our younger students. Edward believes he’s benefitted from Westholme’s learning environment and our rounded approached to teaching: “The support we get at Westholme is great. We’re always encouraged and supported in all we do and are given lots of opportunities to learn and grow. But the people I’ve met here have been the highlight for me.”
Thirst for knowledge for Evie
After over a decade of Westholme education, Evie was all smiles this morning as she collected her fantastic A level results: an A in History and Bs in both Classics and EPR. She was absolutely delighted with her grades which have secured her first choice University place at Newcastle. Years of Mr Oracz’s dynamic teaching have inspired Evie to pursue a degree in Classics, but despite her success and delight, Evie explained that the wait for her results hadn’t been easy: “I can’t quite believe it to be honest. I’m so pleased. My results are better than I could have hoped for. My school year had never done external exams before, our GCSEs were teacher assessed, so it’s been quite challenging.
A keen sportswoman, having played Hockey for external clubs such as Clitheroe and Blackburn Northern, Evie has excelled in so many aspects of Westholme life. From saving goals on the hockey pitch to supporting and cheering on younger students in her role as Year 7 Prefect, Evie has always fully embraced all that Westholme has to offer. As she collected her results today, it was clear that she leaves us with not only academic Thirst for knowledge for Evie Drake success but many fond memories, close friendships and lifelong skills: We couldn’t be prouder!
Evie said: “I’m ready and excited to leave and move on but I know that’s also tinged with sadness. I’ve been here all my school life and made some great friends. Westholme isn’t just about academic success, that’s obviously important but there is such a holistic approach here that has allowed me to thrive and really set me up for life outside of here.”
Bright future for Harry
Harry has done fantastically well and secured a prestigious place at Oxford University to study Mathematics. He said he is “ecstatic” after achieving A*s in Further Maths and Physics, and a B in History at Westholme’s INSPIRED Sixth Form. Harry’s results are in addition to the A Levels in Computing and Maths that he achieved a year early after completion of Year 12, both of which he achieved an A* in – a really incredible achievement.
Upon receiving his results, Harry said “It has been a huge relief. I have been really worried about this but taking a couple of the exams early has taken some of the pressure off and allowed me to focus on Further Maths.” Harry may aim for a masters next after University but is keeping his options open. He said the highlight of his time at Westholme School over the past seven years has been the teachers.
“The teachers have all been all great. They were always supportive when I needed anything or any help. They were always ready to go the extra mile for me. I’ve also made a lot of lifelong friends.” Outside of school, Harry is a fan of amateur dramatics – performing recently in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and will soon be part of the crew helping with Goodnight Mr Tom at Chorley Theatre.
Hollie’s engineering a positive future
Hollie Cubbon was delighted to achieve 3 Bs in Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Hollie is looking forward to a career in civil engineering after receiving a degree apprenticeship at the global company, ARUP. Her aspirations are to find a specific area she would like to specialise in and progress her career in the field. Hollie’s dream is to be involved in projects that shape lives and have a positive impact on our future.
Sport has played a significant part of Hollie’s time at Westholme and she was a proud member of all the School sports teams. Hollie also represented Westholme at a national level, competing in the final of the national biathlon championships as well as national swimming.
“I have always taken the opportunity to participate in all the sport Westholme has to offer. From a young age and through sports, I have learnt the importance of teamwork and leadership, as well as developing communication skills.”
Hollie also took up a musical instrument at the age of 9, soon joining the orchestra and brass band. In Seniors, being part of these bands as well as the swing band provided Hollie with numerous opportunities to perform in many concerts both at School and travelling to various venues.
“Growing up at Westholme I have had an amazing group of friends. Many of my life experiences have been shared by these people and without that strong sense of community Westholme provided, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to aspire to the goals I set myself.”
Speaking about what she valued the most from her time at Westholme, Hollie added: “Having an open and accepting environment allowed me to express myself. I have never been afraid to ask or answer questions in class and all the teachers have encouraged me to be curious. The teachers always have time for you, whether you are struggling or just want to learn more, they will make extra time in breaks to see you.”
The numbers add up for Dilawar
Congratulations to Muhammad Dilawar who will be studying a Degree Apprenticeship with KPMG after achieving two As and two Bs. Dilawar was happy with his grades – achieving As in Maths and Computer Science, and Bs in Further Maths and Physics. He said: “It was quite a lot of work, but not that dissimilar to GCSEs because we sat a lot of mock exams in preparation.”
He is due to start a Degree Apprenticeship in Computing and Technology at prestigious accounting firm KPMG in October. Dilawar said: “I’m looking forward to it. I will benefit from work experience whilst getting a degree.”
Speaking about his highlights at Westholme, he said: “The events I experienced and the friends I have made are what I treasure the most. When I joined at the start of INSPIRED Sixth Form I didn’t expect to find such a large group of friends. They have made the time here so enjoyable.”
“What I treasure most about my experience at Westholme is the sense of community. The constant support from teachers made the learning environment inspiring and inclusive. The friendships I made in class also played a big part in my studies. These friendships transformed the classroom into a collaborative learning environment where we could freely exchange ideas, clarify doubts, and work through challenging concepts together.”
Birthday boy celebrates A Level results
Westholme School’s Head Boy and aspiring software engineer, Tanveer Ali, has been offered a degree apprenticeship at the BBC in Software Engineering.
Tanveer who achieved an A in Maths and 2 Bs in Computer Science and Physics, looks forward to working in the computer science industry. Tanveer, who also celebrates his 18th birthday today, said the results exceeded his expectations. He said: “I’m really pleased with my results, especially with the news about the grade boundaries indicating it was going to be a lot tougher this year. But Westholme prepares us so well, so in the end it wasn’t a concern.”
“The most valuable aspect of studying at Westholme for me was the environment. As cliché as it may sound, there really is a family feel here. You become friends with everyone – even if you don’t necessarily see them on a daily basis, and the teachers are always there for whatever you may need.” Tanveer completely embraced all the opportunities he was given at Westholme, and from Year 7 got stuck into many of the extra-curricular clubs on offer such as badminton, swimming and football, as well as also starting his own badminton club at lunchtimes in Year 12. He also joined the table tennis, tennis and chess clubs, and even tackled the cross-country club at one point.
Tanveer has thoroughly enjoyed all the House events too from house cross country to the House plays. “I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of Westholme life and made so many memories by taking part in all the clubs, events and experiences,” Tanveer commented.
A highlight for Tanveer was receiving the Principal’s award at Prizegiving in 2019, given to one student each year for showing qualities of a model student. “My greatest achievement at Westholme is when I became Head Boy. During my time in the role, I learnt so much and gained so many new skills.
Birthday boy celebrates A Level results I am extremely grateful to Westholme for giving me the opportunity to do this, as it has helped me gain a whole host of skills that will benefit me in the 21st century workplace.”
Four talented Westholme students took to the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre, on London’s West End on Sunday 25 June. They performed in a piece “Because You Ca Ca Can” based on the musical Moulin Rouge as part of a Musical Theatre Showcase.
The A level Biology field trip is always a highlight of the year, for teachers and students alike. Year 12 have recently spent 2 days in the picturesque Lake District, near Keswick, at the Blencathra Field Studies Centre.
On Thursday 15 June, Year 10 EPR students travelled to the Buddhist Centre in Manchester to help deepen their understanding of the faith which is studied in their EPR GCSE course. They spent time with Buddhists from the local community and were able to explore the beautiful sacred space which lies in the heart of the city centre.
On Thursday 8 June we were delighted to host our annual Year 5 STEM Challenge day, bringing together teams from primary schools across the region to showcase their skills in various Science, Maths and Engineering challenges.
Students in Prep 2 – 6 were treated to a memorable experience when they were able to meet renowned children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who visited Westholme to talk about her new book ‘The Magic Faraway Tree: A New Adventure’.
Written by Labib, Head Boy
On Sunday 21 May, Mrs Cowan, our Head Girl Isobel and I were cordially invited to take part in our new local Mayor’s Civic Service at Blackburn Cathedral. The purpose of this event was to welcome our new mayor, Coun Parwaiz Akhtar, to the role and to come together as a community to meet him.
The late, great Aretha Franklin said that music is “transporting…it can take you right back to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.” This was certainly the case on Thursday 28 April as we hosted our annual Spring Concert in the Croston Theatre.
On Friday 28 April we held our magnificent annual Sports Awards Dinner at Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers FC.
This year, we are delighted to be launching our INSPIRED Sixth Form Diploma. After the success of the Holistic Award programme which launched for Senior students last year, the INSPIRED Sixth Form Diploma celebrates key 21st Century skills and abilities, rewarding those who show commitment and engagement to all aspects of INSPIRED Sixth Form life.
We held our first Centenary Alumni Lunch on Saturday 28 January and what an event it was! As the first of our series of lunches, and the first of a long list of events taking place throughout the year, it was a fantastic way to start what we’re sure will be a year to remember in Westholme’s special history.
Our INSPIRED Sixth Form student, Harry Smith, has received an offer from Hertford College, Oxford University, to study mathematics.