Recently I was contacted by someone I taught as an NQT 13 years ago! Emma is now a primary school teacher in Bristol, and she got in touch through Facebook; something I have to say I am not very competent in using, but it was a lovely surprise!
We met up and exchanged our news from the ten years that have passed since we last spoke. Emma’s journey was a great one; the school in which I spent my formative years as a teacher wavered between 8% A*-Cs and mid 20s…not many of the former students have enjoyed the same level of success as Emma. Her achievements have reinforced my faith in the value of education for all. It really doesn’t matter about the starting points or the places where young people are educated – it is about opportunity and believing in people.
The enthusiasm with which Emma recounted her school tales and views on everything, ranging from education to life as a whole, was rejuvenating and I had a real spring in my step as I returned home that evening.
The TES magazine recently ran an article What can we learn from Jade Goody? and one quote really caught my interest: ‘Working-class groups are written off in a way that bears no relation to their abilities, because they are who they are and live where they live.’ But surely this isn’t the case for Every Child Matters.
Reading the TES article framed my thoughts and feelings from earlier in the week and reminded me of Paul Willis’ book Learning to Labour, on working class culture from the inside. This work framed my passion for ethnographic research, but also helped me to really understand and value individuals, irrespective of starting points or socio-economic setting.
I look forward to hearing how Emma’s career progresses and am warmed by the thought that for every individual who really does make something of their lives from humble beginnings, hope and inspiration follow, allowing others to achieve as well.