The time has come to finally say goodbye………………………… I am in my 26th year here, a place which has become a second home. My career started in Hounslow, a very different part of London where I too have very fond memories, but they are different to the connection that I have always felt here.
Odd to think that when the Deputy Head post was first advertised in Spring 1996, it leapt out at me straight away, but it just wasn’t the right time so I didn’t apply; strangely I regretted it, but then in the Autumn Term of the same year, the post was advertised again and I knew that there was something special about the fact that the vacancy had not been filled, this was going to be my school.
My success at interview was one of the best things that ever happened to me, I was over the moon, it just all felt so right. I started in January 1997 as a teaching Deputy, trying to ‘earn my stripes’ and gain the respect of the local community. I have to say that you did not make it easy for me, and quite rightly so! It took me a while, but gradually that trust began to grow as you let me into your lives and this extraordinary part of North Kensington.
I was fortunate to teach so many wonderful young minds and learnt as much from them as I hope they did from me. We shared many happy days learning together, putting on elaborate productions such as Grease, Little Shop of horrors, West Side Story and a handful of Shakespeare classics with there always being time for laughter as well as elaborate learning and wonderful progress. I worked with wonderful people, and wonderful families what more could anyone want. My teaching days are the most precious, I loved it and it has been such an honour to be able to welcome so many past pupils back through these gates over the years, but this time with children of their own, or as professional colleagues. It has been an incredible privilege for me to be able to watch your families grow and change and to be part of that. Thank you.
As Deputy, I ended up covering for the then Head Liz Rayment-Pickard, so I had been given a glimmer into Headship Life. Note the word ‘glimmer’. It made me think about the possibility of being a Head myself one day, but I really wasn’t sure as I loved the teaching so much and would be very grumpy if I could not do that anymore.
Liz announced that she was leaving at the beginning of the Spring Term, 2007. It made me think, a lot. I thought about making a difference which was really all that I ever wanted to do. To create a unique learning community where children were put at the very centre of everything that we do, to get them to value their place in the world, seeing their own worth and aspiring to contribute and being inspired to succeed, rather than just try. For Oxford Gardens to be regarded as a Beacon of Hope in the community.
And the rest is more history! Easter 2007 I succeeded Liz Rayment Pickard and became the Headteacher. I couldn’t really believe it, and knew that there was a very long journey ahead.
So things built up from there – I have worked with some truly amazing people and have learnt so much from everyone, it has been an absolute privilege to have been part of so many people’s careers and to have had the opportunity to help many young leaders on their way. I have had the most extraordinary 16 ½ years as Head Teacher of the most wonderful school and community, but have to say that no amount of training could have ever prepared me for what I have experienced.
And the families, where do I start………………………….you have let me into your lives and trusted the school for support and guidance in the most extraordinary of circumstances. There have been shadows that have been cast across us throughout the past ten years, shadows that brought with them devastation, fear and uncertainty. It has not been easy but, we have always worked together to find solutions to the challenges that we have faced, with the beauty of our partnership being that you have worked with us on a way forward. There are always solutions, it is just that sometimes we cannot find them very easily, but they are always there and together with perseverance, we have found so many.
Thank you for trusting me as your Head teacher and the wonderful staff who have stood by me through thick and thin. We have achieved great things and the one thing that I wanted to leave was a successful community primary school, there for the community and part of the community. We have done that – together.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to come and say goodbye, your wonderful gifts, messages, cards and the warmth of your beautiful words. The compassion of this community is extraordinary and it has been an honour to work with you. You will always be in my heart.
Thank you for letting me be your Captain and steer the Oxford Gardens Ship ………… Sail 2 Success