Graduating from Leeds University in 1993 with a First Class Honours in Political Studies, Shirley did not take a ‘traditional’ route through education, returning to take her A levels at the age of 23. From leaving school, she worked in a variety of sectors, particularly industry and hospitality, latterly running her own business while under-taking her degree and teaching qualification as well as bringing up her family.
After working in a series of teaching positions in further education, Shirley arrived at Dixons City Technology College as a teacher of Humanities in 1996. By 2000, she was promoted to Head of Post-16 at Dixons City Technology College. With the conversion to academy status in 2005, Shirley was appointed to the post of Deputy Principal, later becoming Principal in 2011. In 2018 following a Section 8 conversion, an Ofsted Section 5 judged Dixons City to be Outstanding in every area. The report describes her leadership as ‘exceptional’ and that her leadership has ‘inspired the school community to strive for excellence in everything they do’.
Shirley became an Executive Principal in 2016 and the Trust appointed a new Principal for Dixons City to expand her role from September 2018 .
Shirley remains first and foremost committed to making a difference in economically challenging areas and is therefore very proud of everything that Dixons has done over almost 30 years to improve the life chance of young people in Bradford. This ‘unwavering determination’ to challenge educational inequality was identified in the Dixons City 2018 Ofsted report.