Nearly 17 years ago, I joined the amazing community of Gateway School as a teacher. I had actually been a part of the community long before that when my eldest daughter joined the school aged two and a half, she will be 25 in July! So that is why I have become part of the furniture!
Also leaving this summer are our wonderful Year 6 students, some of whom have been here for the whole of their school career, others who have joined along the way. I remember them when I taught them in Preschool (EYU as we called it then) and again in Year 1. Now I have been privileged to teach them in our final year together. It has set me thinking about what makes this such a special school.
The first years of a child's education are fundamentally important; pivotal to future success. They are the foundation that shapes children's future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school. Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.
The litmus test for a successful start to school life, I believe, is the measurable difference in confidence with which children enter the school gates in the morning. Starting school is an undoubtable challenge; a challenge that, as adults, we often fail to appreciate. There are new skills to learn, a new environment to negotiate and new friendships to forge; no day, in fact, will be the same. Becoming fully accustomed to school and its routines takes some time.
Each September, children arrive at school, wide-eyed, yet reassured by the closeness of their parents; some less willing than others to explore their new environment without the comfort of a familiar face. Twelve weeks later, however, these same children run in excitedly to school each morning to find their friends. The fact that these children so readily consider themselves a valued part of Gateway’s community is strong testament to the school’s nurturing ethos and a direct result of our teachers encouraging children to be positive, confident individuals with a life-long love of learning. It is this confidence that will enable children to fulfil their potential and be whoever they want to be and go wherever they want to go.
Now it is time for us to take our next step. Year 6 will be joining new schools, learning new things and making new friends, safely prepared by their experiences at Gateway School. For me, I will be saying goodbye to my second home, a place I have helped shape over the last 20 odd years, bidding goodbye to colleagues and friends, saying goodbye to my normal routine. I will also be looking forward to a new beginning, safe in the knowledge that everyone at Gateway School will continue to thrive.
Mrs Suzanne Kemp
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
Cecil Day-Lewis 1962