The first crisp January morning of 2016 saw me nervously approaching reception at St Gregory’s School in Bath not knowing what to expect. I may have left school 25 years ago but there was a familiarity as soon as I walked through the front doors.
As the bell/siren/klaxon sounded the corridors filled with swarms of students, (not sure if that’s the collective noun but it seemed to fit) all with somewhere to be, followed closely by efficient teachers with lesson plans and bags of marked homework (were they teachers or upper sixth students?) I’m suddenly feeling very old.
The smell is still the same and I felt like the new boy all over again not knowing where to go amid a maze of oddly numbered classrooms and corridors.
I’ve signed in, I have a lanyard and I’ve been given a de-brief along with my fellow ‘freshers’, including a couple of soldiers, a police officer and various other local business people. We’re all honoured to be asked by St Gregory’s school to help evaluate their year 11 students by giving them mock interviews and impart them with our wisdom as local business people and employers.
I feel very grown up and sage as I’m handed a pile of CVs. As I read through them I feel a huge weight of responsibility. These young people mean business, they know their stuff and they’re deadly serious about it.
My morning was inspiring, thought provoking and incredibly interesting as I listened to each of them in turn tell me what motivates them, who inspires them, what challenges they face and how they manage homework, schoolwork, after school clubs and endless lists of sporting activities. Many of them had a clear focus about what they want to do in the future and some of them are still carefully (very carefully) considering their options. All of them however were an absolute joy to spend time with and talk to.
I really didn’t know what to expect this morning but certainly not approximately 160 students and 25 local business people being organised with military precision by just two teachers. I didn’t expect to be so engaged with each of the students I interviewed, I certainly didn’t expect them to be so gracious about my interviewing technique and I didn’t ever think I would be so moved by the whole experience.
My afternoon was back at work and feeling buoyant and motivated by a group of young people who are a credit to their families, their school, our city and most of all to themselves.
Good luck to each of you, your futures are very bright indeed.