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Highgate Tottenham Hotspur

Headteacher's Blog

Exam season at LAE Tottenham. But this time for real. Students have been taking LAE Tottenham’s first ever set of external exams beginning this week and it has felt like a seminal moment in the school’s history. As with any cohort in any school, many hours have been spent poring over the detail of their preparation. Are they too relaxed? Too stressed? In need of motivation or a calming influence? Should we have a daily countdown to exams or would that ramp up the pressure? In reality, in a group of 100 people, there is never a right or wrong answer. Ultimately managing the emotions of a large numbers of people relies only in part on the messages given to the whole year group in assemblies and other set piece events. More important is the individual care and attention given by subject teachers over the long term. Teachers who know their subjects inside out and who can cajole, guide and prod at just the right moment to support success. This is just as likely to be in the long winter of Year 12 as the week before an A Level exam. How well has this been achieved? Well, some might argue that the proof will be in the pudding – the headline results that we’ll report in August and obviously there is some justification for this. But education cannot and should not be defined in headlines. Rather, by the behaviours, the emotions, the bonds created and shared over the past 21 months. For this, our pioneers deserve an A*, as they have laid the most solid of foundations for the generations to come.

In the febrile world of exam accountability, there may be a tendency for the summer term to be lost in an inevitable cycle of mock and external exams. We at LAE Tottenham will always fight against this urge and I’m delighted there’s been no let-up in the number or variety of opportunities on offer this term. Highlights have included the Shadowfax Sailing Day; the Cabinet Office Challenge with John Lyon school, ending in a memorable talk around the cabinet table in 10 Downing Street; our second annual English symposium with Harrow school; a taster day for 60 Year 10 students from Park View school and the Haringey Citizens Listening results assembly. Alongside this, the ambition of our Year 12 cohort is highlighted by the number of places they’ve successfully secured on work experience and summer school programmes. Amongst these have been some very special opportunities, open only to LAE Tottenham students, such as the work experience at Allianz Insurance and Fietta Law, placements generously provided via the parent and alumni body at Highgate School.  We were also delighted to find that no fewer than 42 students have received offers of a Sutton Trust Summer School across a range of leading universities, adding to our three participants on the Sutton Trust US University programme. Indeed, I wonder if in the context of LAE Tottenham, the idea of a summer ‘break’ is somewhat of a misnomer.

Finally, this term was marked by the first (although hopefully not the last!) LAET/Highgate job swap, with Adam Pettitt, Head at Highgate School (and Deputy Chair of Governors at LAET) spending a day in charge in Tottenham whilst I was entrusted with the metaphorical keys to Highgate. It was clearly a very useful way to show the strength of the bonds between the schools as well as an ideal opportunity to meet staff and students. However, as a rare chance to spend an extended period of time in another school, it also allowed time for reflection. It struck me as I popped into lessons around Highgate, an environment seemingly so different from Tottenham, that what is often lost in the wider educational debates about the independent and state system, or academisation and the free school programme, the fact remains that whatever the structures, whatever the school, at any great educational institution’s heart are ambitious young people and passionate teachers. This was as true at Highgate as I hope it is here. Thus lies the basis for genuine mutually beneficial partnerships. I look forward to next year’s swap already!

24 May 2019