Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit another Catholic school in East London. The journey from Chelmsford was a real trip back to the past especially when we drove through Ilford, Manor Park and Forest Gate. Road names remain but so much has changed.
We passed my old secondary school, the entrance door still familiar and the wall that cocooned us girls from the outside world still in tact.
We continued to drive down a road that I used to walk to the tennis courts, and to the Church where we celebrated many a Mass.
All this made me realise how fortunate I had been to have had a top class education, that despite my humble beginnings, my parents gave me the best start they could. I loved school and in the main, academia suited me. This was a springboard for me and most days I am thankful for my language skills, my mathematical ability and my knowledge of the world and history.
Not everyone has these opportunities, or the support to make the most of them. For some, school and to conform, are not happy bed fellows, but we need to find a way to engage, support and encourage these as they deserve.
One of my favourite songs is ‘different corner’ by George Michael, and I often reflect on the choices that my parents, myself and my husband have made. My life could have been very different but I have been lucky and I appreciate all that has been done for me.
The school I visited faces so many challenges: gang culture, poverty, immigrants, and inner city anxieties, but there was such a positive vibe within the school, a real determination to achieve and be the best you can be. It was a delight, but it’s tough I’m sure.
I returned home and we all went to the polling station together to vote, and I recanted about my day and my journey, appreciation of where my family live, the opportunities that they have had and continue to have!