Fir Vale school stays in the hearts of every person who learns, works at or visits the school. This page is intended to connect past, present and future Fir Vale students, their parents and our community. We aim to model and build aspiration and togetherness.
Here we celebrate the successes, endeavours and achievements of people who attended Fir Vale School, or its predecessor Earl Marshall School. We take pride in all our students’ successes, their determination and their kindness to others.
We are keen to reach out to people who attended Fir Vale School and would be happy to contribute to this page with a couple of paragraphs about their life journey and perhaps a current photo. If you are a former student please consider making contact with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Jenny Cassy at email@example.com.
Digital Product Manager at HSBC’s Head Office in London.
A*A*A in History, Politics and Psychology.
London School of Economics.
After Fir Vale, I received a scholarship to attend Sheffield High School sixth form. I left sixth form with A-Level grades A*A*A in History, Politics and Psychology.
I then went on to do a degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics. Following this, I joined the HSBC graduate programme.
After completing the graduate scheme I started my current job as a Digital Product Manager at HSBC’s head office in London.
My job requires using a combination of design, IT and business skills in order to build and maintain websites for HSBC customers.
My message to students is:
Set an ambitious goal and do everything you can to meet it. Once you’ve met that goal, set another one. These small achievements are what amount to greater success.
It’s ok to not know where you want to end up as long as you focus on nurturing your passions and strengths, whilst always seeking and being open to opportunities.
Legal Assistant in an international law firm – Pinsent Masons
Law with French Degree, University of Hull
After leaving Fir Vale, I went on to do my A-levels at All Saints Catholic High School. After which I got a Law with French degree from the University of Hull.
I remember that it was in Fir Vale that my love for French was sparked - right in the classroom of Ms Galmes.
I am now currently living my childhood dream of being a French resident! I have been living in France for four years now and work as a Legal Assistant in an international law firm – Pinsent Masons.
It is safe to say that life after Fir Vale was full of numerous adventures - from adjusting to the jump from GCSEs to A-levels, to adjusting to being in a different city from home to experience the full university life. Without a doubt, I still carry with me all the lessons I learnt at Fir Vale.
My message to students is:
To all current Fir Vale students, I encourage you to listen to the advice and guidance from the teachers and counsellors around you, because they have your best interest at heart and only want to see you win!
Studying a Masters in Social Work
After finishing Fir Vale, I decided that I wanted to continue with my education and study at sixth form. Personally this was one of the best decisions I could have made because this is where I found my love/passion for sociology.
This was eventually the subject I chose to study at bachelors degree level. Since then I have gained life experiences through working in various sectors of clinical support work with vulnerable adults including the elderly, individuals with learning difficulties/disabilities and mental health concerns.
Currently I am studying my masters in social work because this is my passion.
Eventually I hope to specialise in therapy and support vulnerable adults who have suffered from trauma or have other mental health concerns.
My message to students is:
The best advice I can give to you all is to focus on completing your studies to the best of your ability. However, that’s just the beginning of your journey. Make sure that no matter what you don’t give up and keep pushing through it all. There will be times when it gets difficult but when you find something you love it will all be worthwhile.
Make sure you get as much as experience as you can because there is so much value in having experience. Academia is important yes but experience is vital.
I wish you all the best in your journeys to becoming the next accountants, doctors, dentists, police officers, social workers, nurses and so forth. Believe in yourselves because you can do it.
Qualifying as a Corporate Lawyer in London
English Language, Psychology and Sociology
Law Degree, University of Sheffield.
After completing my GCSE's at Firvale, I decided to go on and study A-levels in English Language, Psychology and Sociology at King Edward VII Sixth form.
During my time there, I realised that my abilities in writing, problems solving and constructing arguments were actually some of my strongest skills, and so I chose to pursue a law degree at the University of Sheffield.
Whilst studying law and with the support of an organisation called Rare Recruitment, I made applications to gain work experience. I was offered a two week placement at a corporate law firm (Ashurst) in London during my second year at university.
Following my placement, I was then fortunate enough to secure funding to study a masters in London after graduating before commencing a two year training contract at Ashurst.
I'm now reaching the end of a (very tiring but also very exciting) 6 year journey to qualify as a corporate lawyer!
My message to students is:
I once got offered an opportunity that I thought was impossible for me to pursue – and I said yes. Saying yes to a really intimidating opportunity opened so many doors for me.
My advice to current students would be for everyone to say yes to any opportunities to develop yourself, say yes to gaining knowledge about a particular career path and say yes to trying something new!
Think about what you want your life to be like in the distant future, and try to take small steps today to make those dreams a reality for you years down the line. This involves really thinking about what career and lifestyle you want quite early on, so that you are well informed about what you need to do to make that happen.
You should have absolute and unwavering confidence that you are all capable of achieving amazing things as long as you work hard for what you want
Care Team Leader
I am currently a Care Team Leader for a large private care company in Leicestershire. My journey started when I was in Year 10, ten years ago. I did my work experience in a local nursing home and loved helping others.
I left school to go on to a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, as well as working part time as a Support Worker.
As I was in both education and employment, I made the personal choice to remain in employment and not continue on to university. I progressed to become a Senior Support Worker in a secure mental health hospital by the age of 19.
For the past six years, I have continued to specialise in many areas of social care and management, as well as travelling a lot of the world.
My message to students is:
Believe in yourselves, be proud of all your achievements, no matter how minor they may seem. Never ever give up, you’ve got this.
Beauty Salon Owner
Life after Fir Vale started with a started a Level 3 course in Health and Social Care. This wasn’t for me, I really wanted to set up my own beauty salon, but I still worked to my best as I knew that I’d need references from my college. So I started to apply for jobs around the time I turned 18. As well as that in my spare time I researched and practised nail and eyebrow techniques on family and friends. I kept my skills current, and tried new techniques.
Then I got a job at a hair salon which also provided beauty services. This was because I had excellent records of attendance, punctuality and effort at both school and college, and excellent references. I have great interpersonal skills which is important in this industry. At the interview I was able to demonstrate my skills and show my GCSE results from Fir Vale.
On top of that I had my basic English and Maths qualifications and demonstrated a strong work ethic. I stayed there for 3 years and gained more invaluable experience, but still working towards my dream of having my own salon.I didn’t really want to leave there but I needed to fulfil my dream.
Now I have set up my own beauty salon! It was a massive challenge and being self-employed gives you choices but a lot of responsibility.
My message to students is:
The world is yours! Follow your dream but work hard to achieve it. It doesn’t happen overnight and there is different ways to get there, but the only way I know of is to work hard and stay focussed.
Abtisam Mohamed is a local councillor and community activist. She’s Sheffield’s cabinet member for education and skills. She also runs her own law practice which specialises in human rights and asylum cases.
“I went to Earl Marshal around the time when it was closing down,” she says. “I left with only three GCSEs and no A-levels and ended up working in a call centre. “I was 24 when I decided to go back and study because I thought I can’t work in a call centre for the rest of my life.
“I got into Sheffield Hallam University on clearing and did educational studies then a PGCE for teacher training straight afterwards.”
After making the first major life decision – to go to university – Abtisam then switched subjects and chose to pursue law instead. “I did a Masters in law then a Legal Practice Course at the end – I’ve graduated four times in total,” she laughs.
She studied at both Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield as a mature student and carried on working full time throughout.
“The degree was free in those days but the PGCE, the Masters and LPC cost almost £20,000. I left without any debts though because I worked throughout at the call centre to fund my studies.”
After cutting her teeth at a law firm she took the plunge with her own practice, Crater Law Solicitors, in the city centre and is passionate about her career.
“We deal with asylum, immigration and human rights. It is challenging because of the cases but also because the law in these areas is constantly changing. I would never stop working though, it keeps me grounded."
She became a councillor three years ago but admits it was a role she fell into.
“I’ve always been active in the community and involved in democracy. I’ve always tried to change things for the benefit of people and I’ve been involved in campaign groups and community activities.
“The biggest education mistake ever made was scrapping coursework and making it all exam based. What do exams do apart from help you memorise things?
“Coursework gives you more life skills, you build up a gradual understanding of subjects and learn more realistic skills which benefit you for life.
It’s 10 years since I left Fir Vale – and since then I’ve moved around quite a bit! I went to King Edwards for 6th form studying, Maths, Further maths, Economics and Psychology.
Doing well I got into Edinburgh University to study more maths but with a bit more focus on statistics. I very briefly lived in Austria for the summer doing an internship/more travel before starting a masters in medical statistics at Lancaster.
Then I worked in Manchester at a hospital for a year, using that medical statistics degree, but whilst there I decided I wanted a bit more training as I started my career, so I applied for the civil service fast stream. I got accepted to the statistics stream and that sent me to the Office for National Statistics in south Wales, on my first day I even bumped into another Fir Vale Alumni – what’s the chances!?
Now I’m almost half way through the scheme and I’m working for Welsh Government as a statistician, I have quite a varied role ranging from publications to research and I quite enjoy being a civil servant.
Message to students:
Do what you enjoy and take up any opportunity you can.
My life after FV has certainly been an adventure! The only thing I knew was that I wanted to go to college and university but I had no idea of what I wanted to study. From studying subjects such as PE, RE, Music and Design & Technology (Woodwork) at school, I went on to study Music, Economics, Psychology and Maths for my A-Levels.
I then decided to study Law at Sheffield Hallam University. I came out of University not wanting to become a solicitor or barrister, instead I got a job in services for young offenders.
I then landed my current job, as a civil servant. It is a high profile job with a lot of responsibility, but I enjoy it. I work remotely from Sheffield but travel regularly to our office in London. An interesting fact is that when I’m in London I work on the same floor as the Home Secretary and other Ministers (yes it’s pretty cool!). My role involves looking after the Director as well as liaising with Directors in our overseas offices and leading on some of the transformation projects.
Whilst at school we lived by a motto - making dreams a reality - and I try and do that. I could say I have been lucky in what I have done but I would not have got here without the support of my teachers at school. I’m always asked by friends or colleagues about what was the best phase of my study life and I always say my time at Fir Vale was the best time! Not only do I try and give back my time to Fir Vale through career fairs or workshops but I’m still in touch with some of the teachers!
Message to students:
Once your in Y9 have a set goal in mind of what career you wish to pursue, explore your options. But remember to do something that interests you.
Tap in to the support mechanisms you have available through your teachers, career advisors or through past students to see what intrigues you. I was always determined to grasp all the opportunities that were thrown at me. You have to do what is best for you!
Also take up volunteering opportunities, it allows you to build on a variety of skills, attribute and experiences and prepares you ahead of others.
For my Year 10 work experience I spent two weeks in a primary school for children with special needs, this was my first experience of working with children and gave me a real insight into what life would be like as a teacher.
While studying at university, I worked part time as an outdoor educator and student ambassador, meaning I was often working with children and in schools. I’m currently training to be a primary teacher and feel really grateful for the wide range of skills I was able to develop at Fir Vale, through my studies and extra-curricular activities.
My message to students is:
Take as many opportunities to try something new as you can and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they’re how you know you’re learning something.
Magid Mah (Magid Magid)
“I came to Sheffield with my mum, as a child refugee from Somali in 1994.
When I finished Fir Vale School, I went on to Tapton 6th Form to do my A-Levels. I failed everything in my first year and decided to go to Longley Park 6th Form College.
After doing my A-Levels there, I decided to take a year out before going to university. I worked 6 months in two warehouse jobs and saved up some money to go travelling.
I then went to Hull University to study Aquatic Zoology, got involved in student activism and got elected as Student Union President.
After university, me and two friends set up a business which failed but I learnt a lot from it. Then I went to work for a housing charity called Shelter.
I then got more involved in my community and then got elected as a local councillor then became Lord Mayor. This was the first time Sheffield had had a Somali, Muslim or Green Party Lord Mayor! And I was the youngest Lord Mayor ever.
Following this, I stood in the European elections last year and got elected as a Member of European Parliament, which came to an end with Brexit on the 31st of January. I’ve recently finished writing a book which will be published and I am working in climate justice.”
Message to Students:
Everyone who has ever achieved anything has failed and failed hard. See failure as a lesson and not as a setback. And always remember that you are braver, stronger and smarter than you think you are.
After finishing Fir Vale, I attended Longley Park Sixth Form where I studied Maths, Further Maths, Business and Economics. I wanted to attend The University of Sheffield and for that I needed to get an ABB in my subjects which I successfully did. University was an amazing experience and I got to meet so many people from all over the country and the world. Three years went by before I realised, and I was happy to be graduating with a 2:1 in Business Management.
However, before going into the world of work I wanted to travel a little and managed to secure a placement in University of Amsterdam summer school. After 4 amazing weeks in Amsterdam I came back to the UK and a week later was off to Uganda. I wanted to go to Africa for volunteering but couldn’t find anything that was suited for me until I came across Balloon Ventures and with their help I was off to Uganda to do my little bit to help change the world.
I was tasked to work with local entrepreneurs helping them to bring their businesses to life. Once we showed the business works and is sustainable then they could apply for funding from the organisation to grow. This was one of the best experiences of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in volunteering.
Once I returned from Uganda, I trained to become a business analyst with FDM Group. My first job in the corporate world was at Aviva where I did a year as a business analyst. Time flew past and I got to work with so many professionals in different areas of business and learnt so much from all of them. Looking for a change I then moved to HSBC.
I thoroughly enjoyed working there and met some amazing people. However, I realised that working 9-5 Monday to Friday just wasn’t for me. The only way to avoid this was to start my own business so I took the plunge and left HSBC. I instantly regretted my decision as the business I was looking to start required a lot more experience then I had so now jobless and no income I was applying for jobs again.
As I was applying, I was also searching for other business ideas I could get into and that’s when I came across social media marketing. I did a lot of research and watched so many YouTube videos and even paid good money to do an online course. During this time, I heard back from one of the job applications and they asked me to interview. The interview went very well, and they offered me a job which I reluctantly took as I hadn’t been earning for a few months. However, due to Covid-19 my contract wasn’t renewed and so after 3 months of working there I was out of job again. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as now I could focus full time on my marketing agency.
The lockdown provided a unique opportunity as I could work as hard as I can without distractions and the results are starting to show. I will continue to work hard on my agency and achieve financial freedom so I can provide a better life for myself and my family.
Message to Students:
School is an amazing experience and one you will remember for the rest of your life so enjoy it as much as you can and look at the positives in everything. Take time to learn something new everyday and always be open to new opportunities. Start that new YouTube channel you’ve been thinking about or joining those dance classes or learning that new language. There is never a perfect time so start now and make it perfect! …and remember you are only limited by your beliefs and your imagination.
Trainee Solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard LLP - qualifying as a corporate lawyer.
Law (A) Psychology (A) history (B)
LLB, European and International Law at the University of Sheffield
After completing my GCSEs at Fir Vale, I went on to study Law, History and Psychology at Longley Park Sixth Form College. I’d already made my mind up in wanting to do law following a visit from Sheffield University whilst in school, and being part of a mock trial competition in year 10.
Having securing A level grades to study the European and International law degree at Sheffield University, I started my 4 year law degree, where I spent 3 years in Sheffield, and 1 year studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia at Monash University (a top 20 law school globally).
After completing my degree I moved to London to complete my LPC and Masters followed by starting my training contract at Addleshaw Goddard LLP. It has been both a challenging but rewarding journey, and god willingly I qualify as a corporate lawyer in 2021.
Message to students:
First and foremost, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what your socio-economic background is, if you set yourself a goal and focus on achieving this goal, nothing can stop you! Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough - the onus is on you to achieve your goals and ambitions. The starting point however is self-belief, that you and you alone will achieve your goals.
School will equip you with all the basic skills to go on to fulfil your goals and ambitions. Whether that’s becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer, social-worker or teacher, you have the raw skills to achieve that. It takes dedication and determination, no matter your background, race or religion. Just remember, no one got anywhere without having drive, passion and a strong will. I would recommend setting yourself a goal/target once you leave school. Choose your A levels based on these goals but remember, A levels go by very quickly so make sure you focus when you’re doing them. They are the gateway to getting into universities of your choice.
When you get to university, make the most of everything it has to offer! Who would have thought a young boy born and raised in Page Hall (who wasn’t the brightest in his year) would live in Melbourne and work as a corporate lawyer in an international law firm! But if I of all people can do it, anyone can!
Take small steps into achieving your goals - one by one, tick each step off as you achieve it. Remember to keep challenging yourself. Your biggest hurdle is you, but only if you allow yourself to be. Find good mentors and speak to people who have achieved what you want to achieve. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help!
Keep focused and remember the bigger picture. Life isn’t about having fast cars or lots of money at a young age - it takes time. That will come with hard work and academic success. Once you have that, the rest will follow. Make sure you surround yourself with good friends! They say you are what your company is, so make friends with ambitious and driven individuals. It will help you more than you can imagine!
Keep believing in your abilities, and remember, no matter who you are or where you came from, you alone choose your future path. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Manchester
Psychology Degree at the University of Birmingham
After Fir Vale, I went to college to study A-Levels. I chose to study at college because I knew that I wanted to go to university. During college, I found my Psychology A-Level really interesting so I decided to apply to study Psychology at university. Although I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as career, I thought that studying Psychology would provide me with knowledge and skills (such as critical evaluation, insight into how people behave in groups, statistical analysis etc.) that could be useful for a number of different career fields.
I obtained a place on a degree course at the University of Birmingham. Moving away gave me experience of meeting new people from all over the UK (and further afield), living independently and getting to know a new city. Whilst I was at college and university I also worked part-time at Tesco: this gave me invaluable experience of ‘the world of work’ whilst also helping to support me financially.
As part of my university degree, I did a placement year which involved working with young people experiencing mental health difficulties. I really enjoyed my placement, and, after my degree, I stayed in Birmingham and worked as a Research Assistant in mental health research for a couple of years. I then decided that I wanted to train as a Clinical Psychologist so that I could help people who are struggling, supporting them with making changes to relieve some of their distress. I knew there were very limited places on Clinical Psychology training courses, so I made sure I had a ‘back up plan’ if it didn’t work out.
Fortunately, I obtained a place on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate at the University of Manchester. This involved three years of working as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and included; attending lectures/study, receiving training in a number of different therapeutic approaches, completing a piece of clinical research, and work on five clinical placements across different NHS services.
I now work as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Manchester. My work typically involves conducting assessments, providing therapy to service users and their families, delivering training and supervising other members of the team. I love the varied nature of my role and like that I am still learning new things every day.
Message to students:
Strive for balance - if you have worked really hard, reward yourself! If you have had a bit too much of a break, get some work done (you will probably feel better once you do). Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to do in the future, everyone is on their own path so try not to compare yourself to others. Even if you are not sure what you want to do, focusing on your education now will help to keep your options open for the future. Studying, gaining knowledge, and having different work experiences is important as it can help you to gain transferable skills that will be of use in any career. We all have strengths and things we find difficult, so invest time in the things that utilise and build on your strengths, and don’t be afraid to ask for help for the things you find more difficult.