A headteacher hopes to inspire her children to reach for the stars – no matter what their background.
Shazia Azhar is the new head at Purlwell Infant and Nursery School and also the first British Asian woman of Pakistani origin to take the role at a Kirklees school.
And her achievement is coupled with a determination to inspire future generations to follow their dreams. She said: “I think hopefully I can be a role model for others, first and foremost.
“In Kirklees the largest minority ethnic group is the Pakistani group, so it’s sad in a way that it’s taken until 2013 that we have someone of that community that’s a woman - there’s a male headteacher but no other women of Pakistani origin who have reached this position.
“We’re a large authority with 200 primary schools so it’s about time.”
Mrs Azhar added that even in 2013 there were barriers for aspiring headteachers of certain backgrounds.
She said: “There are still expectations and stereotypes of what a headteacher should be and it’s very difficult to break those stereotypes, to be solely judged on how you are as a teacher – to prove that even though you don’t look a particular way you can still do that job.
“It shouldn’t matter what your background is you should all have the same opportunities, I really want that message to get out there.”
Mrs Azhar was formerly the assistant headteacher at Spring Grove Junior Infant and Nursery School in Huddersfield.
She joined the school after the Christmas holidays and commutes to the Purlwell Lane school by scooter from her home in Edgerton, Huddersfield, to beat the traffic.
The new headteacher hopes to help Purlwell boost its Ofsted score to outstanding before the next inspection and also wants to reach out to the business community.
“I’m appealing to local businesses to sponsor us in some way, and we’d be more than happy to put their logo on our letters,” she said.
Mrs Azhar said firms could sponsor the provision of specialist equipment including laptops and interactive white boards.
“We want to make sure the children have the best resources available to them,” she added.
Businesses interested in sponsoring equipment for the school can call 01924 326734.