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  • The Power of Education

    Published 25/05/22

    The power of education

    As highlighted in last week's blog, this summer's examinations are underway. I am pleased to report that students have responded brilliantly. What is clear is how seriously our students are taking the examination series. Attendance at revision booster sessions is excellent and students are reporting that they feel relieved that they can show what they are capable of.

    The first set of examinations in 3 years provides a reminder of the importance of this stage of a young person's education. It is also a reminder of the role that academic ‚Äčachievement can play in helping to shape the next steps that young people take.

    During the Covid lockdown in 2020, a parent kindly sent me a copy of a TV documentary about Cec Thompson, a former teacher at Chesterfield Boys School - Brookfield's predecessor. The documentary was filmed in 1989 and tells the story of an extraordinary life and how Mr Thompson moved from humble origins to become a professional rugby player, before training to become a teacher of Economics and from there a successful entrepreneur. The film can be viewed here

    Rugby League Cares - From the RL Cares archives: Cec Thompson | Facebook

    From the RL Cares archives: Cec Thompson A 30-minute documentary made by Border TV in 1989 with Cec Thompson, a man whose influence in Rugby League can...


    The documentary is very watchable for many reasons. The story of Cec Thompson itself is fascinating. The footage from the school in 1989 is great to see, providing a glimpse of life at Chesterfield Boys School. It is fair to say that, until recently, some facilities and classrooms had barely changed! Importantly, the video also provides some important messages about the power and importance of education itself:

    • Education as a key to social mobility - the video describes how Mr Thompson moved from 'illiterate orphan to ...running a business empire... from labouring class to professional class'.
    • The importance of hard work - 'resilience' (a core value at Brookfield).
    • Chesterfield Boys described as 'one of Britain's best schools'. This is a further reminder of the history and prestige of the school, and a reminder of something that we strive for today.
    • The role that teachers can play in the lives of young people - listen to how students talk of Mr Thompson and the esteem in which he is held.

    The final point is a useful reminder of the powerful role that teachers can play. We will all be able to bring to mind our favourite teachers, and why they were important to us. It is timely that this Thursday is 'Thank a Teacher Day', an annual campaign to highlight the impact that teachers can have with children and on wider society.  Details of this campaign can be found here:

    I myself enjoy watching the sport of rugby league and have been a life-long Featherstone Rovers fan. The film has lots of footage and anecdotes from the world of this noble sport, where Cec Thompson made his name as a powerful forward for Hunslet and Workington Town. He went on to represent Great Britain in 1951. From rugby he went to university and became an economics teacher, and some footage from the film shows him in action in this arena, as well as on the rugby field.

    Cec Thompson was a man who entertained those fans who watched him play rugby with such prowess. He earned the respect and admiration of the Chesterfield students he taught, and he supported people through the successful businesses he owned and ran. His story is one that involves incredible adversity. It is a story made possible by the role of education and is a reminder of the privilege and responsibility of working in the field of education.


    In addition to the 1989 documentary, Mr Thompson's story is also captured in his autobiography, 'Born of the wrong side'. Well worth a read and is available to buy online at


    Mr Keith Hirst 


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  • Ready and Raring to Go!

    Published 19/05/22

    On Monday of this week, a group of ten Year 11 students sat their first GCSE examination - Religious Studies. This was followed on Tuesday by a Science examination which all Year 11 students sat. Last week, those students who study GCSE French, German and Spanish had their GCSE speaking tests. Next week sees the first A Level exam of the summer series.  For sure, the type of activity that has been absent from school for so long has returned with a vengeance! Examinations will run until late June.

    It is 3 years since students at Brookfield - and across the country - experienced actual examinations. COVID-19 restrictions meant that grades were awarded in 2020 and 2021 based on teacher judgements. This was an imperfect system, to say the least. The resulting grade inflation across the country was one of the main reasons why the return to normal assessment was so important. External examinations are the fairest way to test student ability and performance. To address the disruption of the past two years, this year's examinations have been modified to ensure all students have extra support. These modifications include the use of more generous grade boundaries, the release of 'advance information' and support materials. Details can be found here.

    My overwhelming belief is that everyone at Brookfield is ready and raring to go this summer. Whilst exams, and the preparation that accompanies them, can be stressful, our students and staff have embraced this challenge. Attendance to school this year has been outstanding, and well above national average figures. Revision classes have been well-attended, including during our Easter revision school. Staff report that students are focussed and have a real appetite to do well.

    This week I have been dropping into exam 'booster sessions'. These are intensive revision classes that are timetabled the day before and on the morning of exams. The aim is to provide students with a final revision input to help allay any fears and to boost confidence. The degree of planning by teachers, and the focus and engagement of students, is extremely impressive. Another indicator that both students and staff are working together with a common goal and to rise to the challenge this year. Another indicator of just how special a school Brookfield is.

    We make it clear to students that hard work, determination and resilience are traits that will enable them to reach their goals and achieve their dreams. The abiding impression from this crucial stage of the year is that this message is not only understood, it is being embraced. 

    Keith Hirst, Headteacher

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  • The Queen's Platinum Jubilee: celebrating the past - looking forward to the future

    Published 03/05/22

    On Friday of this week, I am delighted that Brookfield will play host to a ceremony as part of the Queen's Green Canopy Scheme. This is a tree-planting initiative that is taking place this year, and where people across the country are encouraged to 'Plant a Tree for the Jubilee'.

    The origins of Brookfield can be traced back to Chesterfield School for Boys, formerly Chesterfield Grammar School, dating back to 1594. Today, the Old Cestrefeldian Society and the Old Cestrefeldians’ Trust, works to maintain links between former students and masters from Chesterfield School and Brookfield Community School.

    On Friday 6th May 2022, a ceremony attended by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, as the Queen's representative, will see an oak tree planted on the Chatsworth Road side of the school site. In the 16th Century, the oak tree provided the wood to build the ships of Queen Elizabeth I's fleet. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I was instrumental in the establishment of Chesterfield School in around 1598. It is fitting, therefore, that our current monarch - in the 70th year of her time on the throne - is commemorated with the same oak tree over 400 years later. This promises to be a very special ceremony and will be attended by students and staff from Brookfield, Old Cestrefeldians and other local dignitaries, as well as Vice Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Colonel John Wilson OBE DL.

    The ceremony is important on many levels. From marking the Platinum Jubilee and the 70 years that Queen Elizabeth has spent on the throne, to the commemoration of students and staff who have attended Chesterfield School and Brookfield Community School - and who will do so in the future. We want to mark the Jubilee as an event that we will never see again. For a monarch to reign for 70 years is unprecedented. 

    Later in the day, we will host a whole school 'Platinum Jubilee Picnic' on the school sports fields, where form groups and staff will gather as a community to mark the occasion. This fits in with our wider belief that education does not simply focus on the academic. Education is an experience in itself and not just a preparation for the next stage in life. We want to mark the Jubilee as an occasion that we will never see again. For a monarch to reign for 70 years is unprecedented. 

    The past is important, and it is vital that we understand and cherish our history. It is also important that we allow students and staff to create memories of their own. I am sure that long into the future we will be looking back at the reign of Queen Elizabeth and how her Platinum Jubilee was marked. The oak tree that will stand at the front of school for many years to come, will be a reminder of this achievement.

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  • Excellence... A Journey not a Destination

    Published 21/03/22
    I am delighted to bring you the first of my blog posts, designed to offer an insight from Brookfield and the wider field of education. I will admit at this early stage to a dash of self-indulgence. My enjoyment of writing - and love of read
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