Dear Year 11,
I didn’t have time to notice you when I joined the academy in April. I was thrust in at the deep end with the then year 11 and was focused on pulling together their Controlled Assessments, capturing the missed Controlled Assessments and preparing them for an examination for a board that I had never taught before.
Our lessons together were difficult. You were hard work to begin with. Often year 10 is hard work but coming in more than half way through the year, it took a while for us to gel. Slightly aggressive, somewhat resistant and definitely lazy, I found teaching you quite hard and you made it quite clear you weren’t going to make it easy for me. Even now some of you remark at how rude you were to me at the start – I simply think it is the Wellington initiation.
In November, I sat down and went through all your Controlled Assessments. It broke my heart. We didn’t have Controlled Assessments. Scraps of paper lay in folders with marks that were inflated when compared against the work with which they had been attached. We were in trouble and I was scared. I cried that evening. I felt close to giving up. Not only did I realise then the extent to which you had been let down but I was terrified for myself as I realised the sheer task that lay ahead of me if I was to even attempt sorting the mess that had been left behind. I went into meeting after meeting to work out what we were going to do and sat down with Anne to construct an action plan – new texts, new tasks, new Controlled Assessment. We had a mountain to climb but we were adamant it was going to happen.
You weren’t happy at first. Some of you were resistant. I was asking you to work twice as hard and at that stage the actual GCSE didn’t seem that real. We worked until Christmas on a creative writing piece and I was staggered by some of the work that came in. YOU were staggered at what you could achieve and it was at this point that I started to see that you began to believe in yourself – that if you pushed just that little bit harder, your achievement could become something great.
We offered Saturday sessions up at the college. Not everyone was keen – being asked to give up a Saturday to study was a foreign concept. But many of you came along and I watched you, both at the college and at the academy, and observed your confidence grow and grow. Those who went developed vocabulary, the flair for writing and being in the college’s environment spurred you on. Bonds were formed with the teachers at the college and relationships continued to develop as you began to trust us, realising that we had your best interests at heart.
As the Controlled Assessment deadline drew closer and closer, I worked with some of you in the evenings with some study sessions going on until 9pm. I worked with you at weekends – groups of you volunteering to come and work with me in boarding because you were desperate to do well. I chased and hounded those of you who were missing CAs, texting, ringing and speaking with parent after parent. Letters were sent, revision books were handed out, trips and workshops were organised, more holidays were sacrificed…deadlines approached. Over the course of the past year I have spent more time with you than I have my family and my friends. Some of you were surprised that you could give me the name of someone in year 11 and I could tell you what class they were in, what their target grade was and whether a C grade was possible. I am not surprised; I have spent hours and hours staring at your data this year and I have spent hour upon hour trying to get to know you all – to get you to have confidence in us, as a team, to know that we want you to believe in us, and more importantly in yourself.
And now..now we are at the point of no return. The CA sample has gone off, there is but a week until the exam. Your time with me is slowly coming to an end. For many of you, you are ready. There comes a point where you are better off at home – to revise and study as you need it. There comes a point when the exams will be finished and you will get to enjoy the extended holiday that you are all dreaming of. As that time draws closer, so does the realisation for me, that shortly you will no longer be here.
And whilst I am happy for your successes, I am heart broken that our journey together is over. Having cultivated, taken care and helped you to excel confidently, to then watch you as you begin to drift away is something I haven’t been completely prepared for. There is a level of devastation that no one really gets because they haven’t been there during the evenings, the majority of weekends and every holiday with you and I am not sure they will understand the tears that I cry for you and the sadness that I will feel as I say goodbye to you and our time together over the next coming weeks.
So with that in mind I want you to know that you have been the most inspiring year group I have ever worked with. My heart will be broken at your leavers assembly as we say our goodbyes but I know I will also never have been prouder when I think back over what we have accomplished this year together.
With everything I have, I wish you all the success this summer – NO ONE can argue that you don’t deserve greatness because you have been stunningly great
With lots of love
Miss O x