“One of my earliest memories of being at Croydon High is the feeling that it was quite overwhelming. My primary school was quite a small one and quite a lot of the girls I was put with had been to the junior school. It was strange to come into an environment where everybody already knows each other. One of the most exciting things was having your own little desk – there was a particular smell and you could still see the graffiti and everything that was drawn over it. I really like history, so I quite liked the almost-Victorian style of the desks with the little old ink wells, and I found it fascinating to think about how many people had used this desk before me. I really do remember the teachers – I can remember every single one of them. They have a big impact on you, because they all have got such varying different interests and bring their own ideas about things, which pulls you in different directions so you get a much wider experience. The music department was the most important one for me and the music teachers were just brilliant! I ended up being music prefect when I was in Sixth Form…
Obviously to me, going to Croydon High felt completely normal, as did the people I encountered, but then when you went round to your Croydon friends’ houses you could see the difference. I didn’t feel like I was from a particularly poor family, I think we were fairly comfortable as such, but I didn’t get the big expensive toys and things. I knew, just in that innate way that children know, that we weren’t the richest people in the world and I know that I would not have been able to go to Croydon without the financial assistance. Being a recipient of financial assistance wasn’t a help or hindrance; it simply wasn’t mentioned – but I think if I hadn’t received it then it would certainly have been harder for me to access the kind of opportunities on offer and so my passions may have been directed elsewhere. I loved Croydon High, I absolutely loved it, I couldn’t have gone to a better place. As soon as anyone mentions the GDST, I think, “Oooh that’s me!” It’s just always there at the back of your mind that you belong to this, you are a part of this.
My time at Croydon High taught me to grasp everything that you can; all the various different opportunities, to try all the various different things out and to not judge people on first impressions. I always knew I would be a teacher when I started at Croydon High, but I think it really has affected the ethos that I bring to teaching, in that I really enjoyed learning and I still do. That’s what I want to bring to the children that I’m teaching now – I want them to enjoy learning just as much as I did. I had so much fun at Croydon High and I want everyone else to have that too – especially the extracurricular activities. To be honest, in the Sixth Form, I probably didn’t work as hard as I could have done because I was busy doing extracurricular activities. My teachers did suggest that I gave up a few things, just while I got through my A Levels, and I didn’t take any notice! But they let me continue – there was freedom in that you had to be able to follow what you wanted, and so I am still extracurricular activity mad and want to give that to the children I teach. I really love putting drama into my lessons. I’ve got that experience to write Christmas productions and stuff like that, through opportunities I had at school. It’s all those possibilities and variety that enable you to find out that actually you quite like those things. That kind of environment gives you the confidence to stand up for yourself a little bit. The music teachers were absolutely lovely, and when I got to Sixth Form they would ask me to help set something up. If I thought I had a better idea, I was comfortable enough and confident enough to make my feelings known, and actually they did listen to me quite often.
Funding bursaries is such a good idea. The recipients get access to a wider range of opportunities which will aid them in the future. It also allows the school to be more diverse in that the pupils can mix with people from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences, which can only enrich the whole community and school experience – it totally works both ways. You have enough segregation in life and society without enabling it further by having it through education as well – hopefully people learned something from me when I was at Croydon High”.
Class Teacher for E21C Multi-Academy Trust
Alumna, Croydon High School
Class of 2000