Our Trailblazers are completing their GCSEs. We are a school that likes to look forward, and we do so with optimism and excitement. The future is bright. When you like to do things for the first time it becomes infectious and it's the enthusiasm that is catching. When we first opened, our first GCSE results were out there on the horizon, almost as far as the eye could see. They have hurtled into view. No one can quite tell me where the last five years have gone.
Before we reach those results, we know we have celebrated milestones before. After one year, Pinner High School was showcased in the Parliamentary Review highlighting good practice in schools nationwide. We were cited in the House of Lords a year later as a model of a new school in the Grand Debate on Educational Standards. Ofsted judged us ‘Outstanding’ in all categories in our third year. Just 7% of schools received such a judgement in the first term of that academic year, so it felt like things were going in the right direction. And early this year, the news that we were one of just eight schools across the country shortlisted for the TES Secondary School of the year award. There are well over 4,000 eligible schools, so this is quite the accolade, and such a lovely thing for the whole community to celebrate.
We say it quietly, as we like working with our neighbouring schools, but we have been the most oversubscribed school in Harrow for the last two years, with 1202 applications this year for 180 places in Year 7. Students from 59 schools across London, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire have applied to join our Sixth Form.
That is one way of tracking the last five years, but it ignores the best bits. It tells the story of paper not people, the cover but not the contents, the numbers but not the names.
Pinner High School is full of wonderful young people in all year groups, who continue to embrace the opportunities available to them and make the most of the chances that they have. Our Trailblazers will go on to our own Sixth Form or Colleges in the local area as young people who have brought a school to life and enhanced their own prospects by doing so. Theirs are the footsteps others are following. Much as awards bring admiration, it is the triumph over adversity that is more defining.
The last year has brought challenges to everyone, and the school community has met each one with their heads up. It turns out that doing things for the first time is an excellent skill in itself, not just for students, but colleagues too. Perhaps it doesn’t matter too much what that ‘thing’ is. Maybe you’re the first Pinner High House Captain, the first to launch ‘PinnFest’, the first to find your way down a corridor of brand new labs, or the first to try live lessons on Google Meet. Setting up a school from scratch makes it easier to set up a Covid-19 testing facility, almost overnight. It is in the confidence to trust yourself to get it right, to be resilient when challenges emerge, and to show courage and flexibility to find a creative solution. That is the Trailblazers’ spirit. They are all Pinner High School Values, of course.
No one can tell me where the last five years have gone, but I hope these will be the Values, and the spirit, that underpin the next five too.