Since its foundation by Mr Asterley, first Head Master at the turn of the century (1904), Birkdale has continued to grow and develop, with expansion most marked in the last twenty years. The school’s development and success were acknowledged by the Head Master’s election as a member of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1996.
Today Birkdale is an independent day school of around 800 pupils between the ages of 4 and 18 with a co-educational Sixth Form of nearly 200. The Preparatory School occupies its own purpose-designed site nearby, including a separate wing for the Pre-Preparatory department. Transfer to the Senior School is at 11.
The school moved from its first building in Newbould Lane in 1915 to the Oakholme Building on Oakholme road under Mr Griffith’s leadership (1909-1939).
At the start of WW2, the school evacuated to Derbyshire under Mr Roberts, Head Master in 1939. After the war, Mr Roberts moved his pupils to Uttoxeter creating Brocksford Hall School, whilst twenty boys returned to Oakholme Road under Mr Heeley in 1942 who later became Head Master in 1943. The Westbury Building was purchased in 1946 from Thomas Cole of Cole Brothers (John Lewis) to allow for the continued expansion of the school. Mr Heeley was followed by Mr Hall in 1963. Endcliffe Building on Endcliffe Crescent was purchased in 1975, now housing the History and Government and Politics Department.
Mr Hall was Head Master for 20 years. Sadly, he died in 2012 and a memorial lecture was held for him in the Heeley Hall, where a portrait of him was unveiled. Michael Hepworth led the tribute and was followed by Old Birkdalian Michael Palin. Please click here for more details and to see videos of this event.
In response to parental demand, the school expanded to provide education through to age 16 in 1978. Mr Hepworth was appointed Head Master in 1983. In 1988 the Preparatory School moved to a new campus in Clarke House next to the Botanical Gardens and now contains up to 300 boys. The buildings have been totally refurbished to offer up-to-date facilities for teaching. In the same year a new Sixth Form was added to the Senior School allowing education through to 18. The Oakholme campus increased by 25% in 1994 when the Grayson Building was purchased to house a new Sixth Form centre. This building also contains the Language and Classics departments, and new Science Laboratories. The Sixth Form went co-educational in 1995.
Further major developments in 1994 included a new School Library and 30 metre Sports Hall. Mr Robert Court took over from Mr Hepworth in 1998 and more developments took place under his leadership until he retired in July 2010.
The Johnson Building was opened in 1999 to provide new facilities for the English, Maths and Religious Education departments and a base for the Lower School. The Design and Technology Department underwent total refurbishment in 2000 and a new Art Centre was created in the Westbury Building and a Music School developed in Oakholme.
Birkdale has its own playing fields a short distance away. This has been the focus of the latest of our developments to improve facilities with a £2 million investment in the recently acquired 125 year lease for the 30 acre Castle Dyke playing fields and the construction of a new state-of- the-art Sports Pavilion, which opened in 2006.
The School has established a firm reputation for academic excellence; virtually all members of the Sixth Form go on to university, with up to 10% every year entering Oxford or Cambridge. Academic standards are high and we provide the best possible environment and facilities for teaching and learning for all our pupils. The school’s Christian ethos underpins our commitment to pastoral care for each child, a commitment that remains as strong today as in the first year of Birkdale’s foundation.
Birkdale attracts pupils from an area bounded by Wakefield, Rotherham, Retford and Matlock. Transport, shared with a nearby girls’ school, is available from outlying areas.
A full History of Birkdale School was published in September 2012. Please click here to view.