Every year I am asked to speak at the Year Six levers assembly. Here is what I said to them this year.
I am the vice chair of governors, here at Bishop Road. That means I am part of a group of people drawn from a variety of backgrounds from the community, appointed by the council and some of your parents who provide support and challenge to Mrs Powe and the senior team to ensure that the education and teaching you receive is as good as it could possibly be. We ensure there is the right number of teachers, enough money, enough books and that the school is in essence providing everything it should be to help you get the very best start in life.
Today is a big day for you all. As I see it this last year has been full of big days and many decisions to be made – and choices. You have your final day here at Bishop Road. And then after the summer another big day – your first day at secondary school. These are times of huge change.
I do not remember my last day at junior school. But I do remember one of my teachers, Mrs Howell; in fact she is still a good friend to me. She encourages me to call her Margaret, but she will always be Mrs Howell to me, even though I left school a very long time ago.
So what I want to say today is to you, so excuse my back, parents.
Mrs Howell was an inspirational teacher. When I was at school I just wanted to be prime minister really – and you’ve been to the Houses of Parliament, so some of you may have returned from that trip inspired to take a journey towards being a parliamentarian.
Mrs Howell talked to us about choices, decisions – and dreams.
She was clear that we had a very important decision to make every day, will we, won’t we do any work. I know, because I have seen some of the work books the teachers put together for the Governors, how hard you have all worked this year and what fun you have had along the way. Hamlet, The Tempest, singing and dancing in Joseph, making your own Caribbean Carnival. Each topic you all chose to approach with enthusiasm, hard work – and fun. Which is so important. If you don’t enjoy working at school, it’s going to be a very touch few years ahead. But I know, from what I have seen and heard here at Bishop Road that you are all going to chose to work hard – and chose to have fun.
Decisions – you’ve had to make a big decision for September, which school to go to. There will be differences, and I guess similarities. But my one piece of advice is this: Go with an open mind and you will be surprised. Do not be afraid of your ambitions, your dreams; they are yours and no one can take them away from you. Except you.
My strongest memory of my last year at school was Mrs Howell’s story of her dream. To be a dancer. She was, I thought, way too old to do that. And not tall enough. And certainly when would she have the time, outside of school?
Recently, when we were talking together, I realised she had been a dancer all the time I was at school, she taught us dancing, and she belonged to a dance club and danced every weekend with her husband. It was, if you like, what made her an even better teacher – that her dream was still alive.
I wonder, sitting here today what your dream is. Don’t necessarily tell anyone; but you might choose to do that. But whatever it is, keep hold of it. Remember it. Do not let anyone tell you it’s silly, or you cannot do it. Do not listen if someone says you are too young, too old, too short, too tall. You can. If you believe it.
Bishop Road is a very special place. You are Bishop Road. Therefore when you leave here, you take that special element, with you; inside you. The ability you have to think, to talk, and to discuss, to write so brilliantly, to have fun, to be creative, to make your parents, carers and teachers proud. But most of all, you take yourself. Your ability to look at the choices available, to make the right decisions and most of all, to keep your dream alive.
If you are interested in becoming a school governor, you can find out loads of info here. It’s a cracking thing to do.