The last day of Term 5 is always an emotional one. It’s a day of goodbyes as leavers take their next steps. Year 11 step out of main school, and Year 13 step beyond school for good. Of course, it’s au revoir not goodbye, because students will be back in after the half term break for revision and exams, and most of Year 11 will be rejoining us in the Sixth Form anyway, but it still feels like an ending. This blog is for you: the leavers of 2016.
As a new Headteacher joining the Academy in January, I’ve only had a few months to get to know you. Oddly, it’s those in the “leavers'” years that I feel I know the best! I’ve been made to feel very welcome by you at the top of the school, and you’ve been happy to share your experiences with me. You have spent five or seven years at Churchill and have a really good perspective on the things that have made your time at the Academy successful, fulfilling and enjoyable – as well as the niggles and gripes that go into the “areas for development” category! Your approach to study, and your pride in your school, have made you excellent role models to the other students, and given me an idea about what it is possible to achieve at Churchill.
A few moments with the senior students of 2016
Being a secondary school teacher is a huge privilege. You come to us, aged 11, as children; you leave us, aged 18, as adults. We have the honour of shepherding you through the tricky terrain of the teen age as you wrestle with your changing bodies, burgeoning independence, and emotions felt more keenly and powerfully than at any other time in life. In partnership with your families we help you to understand the world around you fully and in depth. Your sense of justice and fairness, your passionately held principles, your refusal to accept that “it’s just the way things are” is inspiring. You challenge us as we challenge you, of course, but in all of you there’s the turning point when you realise that we’re all on the same side and that, actually, we can achieve much more working together than we do in opposition. Equally, your humour, warmth and wit as you realise that your teachers and parents are human too – fallible, flawed, and not always in possession of all the answers – keeps a smile on our faces every day.
What message should you be leaving Churchill with? I think it’s the words of Albus Dumbledore that say it best: “it is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”We are all born with different abilities, different predispositions, different advantages and disadvantages in life. But these are not limiting factors. We are not bound by our circumstances. We can choose to make the most of the situations we find ourselves in, choose to take chances and opportunities when we have them, choose to take on the difficult challenge or the easy option. It is these choices that define us all. I hope that Churchill has provided you with the knowledge and skills to make the best choices, so you can be what you truly are and deserve to be.
Good luck in all you do in the future to the Churchill Leavers of 2016!