When all is said and done, it’s the students that make it all worthwhile. And they really do. Whatever the pressures and challenges we face as teachers, leaders, parents, adults – every school day is punctuated by encounters with students reminding you why it all matters so much: encounters that fill you with hope and optimism, love and laughter, pride and joy.
The feature of Highbury Grove that we all love is the spirit and energy that the students bring. It’s massively rewarding to harness that energy and to see students growing, maturing, learning, knowing that we’re making a difference.
A quick mental scan of recent weeks (names changed, real people):
James, another chat in the playground. He talks to me every week. He’s always excited about something; this time he’s excited but a bit nervous about his Soapbox speech. He asks me (again) when he’ll get his 100% attendance certificate. He runs off suddenly to join in a game.
Sabrina, in Maths, struggles continually and has to wrestle with low self-confidence but is relentlessly cheerful and determined. She was in my squad on Outward Bound – I know what she is capable of.
Robert and Simon, a pair of Sixth Formers, always at the centre of things. They stroll up for a chat, to talk politics and share their latest escapades with various student elections, appearances on BBCQT…
Kolo, always wants to say ‘Hi’. He’s a great model to his peers; shows a real zeal to succeed though not a conformist; he’s committed to his faith; he’s very argumentative – he’s in the Student Council and always has a beef of one kind or another. He’ll go far.
Sana, a multiple A* uber-achiever. Always so impressive to talk to her; awe-inspiring in her calm, humble confidence and maturity, her dedication to music and her commitment to various causes. The world’s at her feet.
Allana. A very troubled young person; she truants, she’s stubborn, she digs a hole for herself all the time and can be super challenging. But recently, she’s had an awakening – she’s started to admit to her problems and is starting to face them. At the heart of it, he is a girl with very low confidence in learning and it all stems from there. I think we can save her.
Ryan, transformed from his time in Year 7 and 8 when people used to say he was unteachable. That was almost true – relentless attention-seeking and work avoidance. He’s one of our great successes from the Behaviour Support Centre – it’s like a switch was switched and he decided to reinvent himself. He walks a bit taller now – you can tell he feels better about himself. It’s great to see.
Ava. Fabulously confident and fiercely intelligent, Ava knows what she wants and makes it happen. It’s fabulous to see her in lessons, always at the centre of any discussion going. She approaches me regularly to voice her latest idea, question or concern and invariably, she leaves with the answer she wanted – usually ‘Yes’ or ‘I’ll get that sorted’.
I could go on and on. Every photo in the gallery above links to students with their unique qualities and stories. Students looking to find success, to overcome barriers, to achieve, to express their individuality, to grow in confidence, to fulfil their ambitions, to discover new passions and talents or simply to live in the moment. They’re all there.
And it’s not just the individuals, it’s the groups.
The gang that gather around the same set of library tables every lunchtime. It’s a reading group, a discussion group, a support group – they’re so lovely to each other and set the tone for the whole space.
The group of Year 7 boys that ooze enthusiasm; always up to something, making each other laugh but also so involved. They form the backbone of our Year 7 football team that is on an incredible winning streak. I met them in Year 6 – so excited about coming to HGS – and they’re still excited; every day it seems.
The Year 11 top-set in Maths. What an extraordinary group of people….oozing with talent, ideas, personality. Real leaders, real role-models.
A group of Year 11 boys I meet at the bus stop every week. Their peer dynamics are fascinating; never finding school particulary easy, needing to stick together for mutual support but always very kind to each other; always laughing. Usually they’ve just been to a revision class or one of them is nagging the others to go with him.
A group of Year 10 girls I see together all the time; clever and committed, taking every opportunity that comes their way; key people in the school play; students every teacher loves to teach. And always seem to be smiling and positive. It’s a joy to see them around.
So – a big sincere Thank You to the students of Highbury Grove for making our jobs as joyful as they are. Per Ardua ad Astra.
And here is one more just in: