My secondary school journey
Case study: St Margaret’s School, Bushey
My journey at St Margaret’s started unexpectedly seven years ago. At the end of year six I thought that my future was pretty much mapped out. Pass common entrance exams, go to local grammar school with the rest of my friends, live happily ever after. It all seemed straight forward, guaranteed almost. Things didn’t turn out however quite how my parents and I had envisaged. After failing my common entrance exams, being rejected from all of my secondary school choices and left with a place at a local comprehensive, my happily ever after was fast becoming fantasy.
After weeks of uncertainty and stress, I arrived to sit the entrance exam that had the potential to turn everything around. I remember my mum’s words ‘just do your best’ floating around my head as I took the test and had my interview. Most fondly though, I remember opening the letter that this time held good news, that this time I could read with a smile on my face.
It wasn’t the seamless start to secondary school that we had planned, but it has made me believe more strongly than ever that everything happens for a reason. I have spent my secondary school years in a place that treats every girl as an individual; a person with her own needs, aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses and that gives every girl the best opportunity to blossom.
From an academic point of view, we are surrounded by a team of teachers who are completely dedicated to our improvement and success. Having been told for years that I was hopeless at Maths, the belief and confidence of my maths teachers in my ‘potential’ carried me to an A at GCSE. Nobody was more surprised than me.
‘An education for life’ however goes beyond the curriculum of the classroom. The last bellmay sound at four o’clock but the school is anything but quiet, instead assuming a new buzz of energy as we get involved in activities ranging from cookery club to judo. Academic achievement is of course important, but there are also opportunities for success in drama, sport, dance, music and Duke of Edinburgh. It is participation in these areas of school life that often proves to be the most memorable and rewarding.
The girls at this school come from different countries, different backgrounds, different religions and different educations. This diversity is highly valued as it allows us to learn from each other and makes our school environment a more interesting place to be. Good manners, respect and dedication are highly prized here and characteristics that we all have in common, whatever our roots, wherever we come from.
I’ll always remember my dad telling me repeatedly and with the utmost sincerity that ‘your school years are the best years of your life.’ I normally ignored these ‘pearls of wisdom’ or responded with a polite smile and half hearted nod just to keep him happy. What would he know? But as I approach the end of my years at school, and thank goodness he’s not here to hear this, I’m beginning to see that he was right. Next September I’ll be making the next big step to university, a step that I feel this school has prepared me for as far as it can, academically and personally. I will always remember my seven happy years here, where I have made some of the best friends I know, learnt about myself and learnt about others all whilst learning about Trigonometry and Newton’s law of Physics.The step to secondary school is a huge transition and a daunting time for anyone, and the decision over which secondary school to choose is a huge one.
I’ll always be grateful that my parents chose St Margaret’s and gave me such a great start. I’ve loved my time here and have learned lessons and life skills that will influence me for the rest of my life.
The article above was written by Alice for her Speech Day in 2008. Lynne Crighton, headmistress of St Margaret’s School would like to add the following postscript:
“This modest girl did not say that she got straight A and A* grades at GCSE, straight A grades at AS level, is predicted 3 As at A level, is applying to Cambridge to read Russian and Spanish, and has just completed her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award! She is a star.”
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