post image

Reunion Celebration

FORMER students and staff went back to school to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of a Teesside Academy.

DSC_6950_1Past students and staff of The King’s Academy, Middlesbrough, enjoyed an afternoon of reminiscing and rekindling friendships as they reflected upon their old school days.

Welcoming everyone back, Principal Chris Drew said:

I’m really delighted to see so many people here today.

“We are extremely proud of all of our former students, seeing what they have achieved, how they have grown, perhaps they have married and had children, or even started their own businesses.

“It is because of them that The King’s Academy is what it is. Any school is only as good as its students, and this reunion is our way to show appreciation, share memories and catch up with old friends.”

Reunion 50Established as an 11-18 academy in September 2003, The King’s Academy brought together two existing secondary schools, Coulby Newham and Brackenhoe, as well as taking students from the nearby Beverley School for the Deaf.

Ten years later it has seen around 3,000 pupils go through its doors, enjoyed a significant rise in GCSE exam results and received positive reports from Ofsted, with students staying on in the academy’s sixth form or moving into further education or into work.

A school community is like a tapestry,” said Mr Drew. “It contains many colours, fabrics and threads which all come together with everybody pulling in the same direction.

“We have achieved great things at The King’s and we have a proud reputation all as a result of the hard work of our students and dedication of our staff.”

Reunion 46Picture boards showing highlights from each school year were on display and booklets packed with hundreds of school photographs were given to former staff and students before they were treated to a tour of the academy to revisit former classrooms and see new facilities including the £1m Sixth Form study centre and dedicated performing arts wing.

Former student Lydia Kirby, 19, an apprentice business manager, said:

I really enjoyed my time at King’s and it’s lovely to come back and see everybody.

“I have some great memories of being at school and I’d love to come back and do it all again.”

Kirsty McKnight, 22, a retail sales advisor, said:

It’s six years since I was last at school and it’s great to come back and catch up with everyone again. Walking back through the doors made me feel just like an 11-year-old again.”

Current teaching staff also joined in the celebrations by reforming old form groups.

Business studies and IT teacher teacher Amanda Elgood persuaded six of her former students from 8B to join her for a group photograph.

It’s fabulous to see so many of my original form group again,” she said.

“I still have the original framed picture of them from when they first came to The King’s so it’s lovely to be able to get a new one.

“It does make me feel a bit old but it’s wonderful finding out that they are all doing so well.”

Graphic designer Jospeh McPhee, 23, added:

This is the first time I’ve come back to school since I left six years ago and it’s brought back a lot of good memories.

“It’s been good to see Mrs Elgood again, although she was Miss Boyle when I was in 8B, and catch up with so many old friends and teachers.”

post image

Human rights defenders talk to students

POLITICALLY minded students have been given a first hand account of the fight for justice and equality in war torn Asia and Africa.

Politics students at The King’s Academy, in Coulby Newham, listened to human rights defenders Manouri Kalugampitiya and Abdi Ibrahim as they explained the struggle for women’s rights in Sri Lanka and the atrocities and unrest in Somalia following civil war.

Sri Lankan activist and editor of the Samabima newspaper Manouri told students about her fight for greater political representation of women within her country’s government.

Women make up more than half of the population of Sri Lanka but we have the lowest political representation in the whole of South Asia,” she said.

“Women in my country are mainly migrant workers in the tea and garment industry but account for the majority of workers in the heath and education sector, yet we still struggle to get women’s rights on the agenda.”

Somalian born journalist Abdi spoke about facing persecution on a daily basis for reporting on the atrocities of war and how seven of his colleagues had been killed for speaking out against the current regime.

The work I do is to investigate the many things happening in my country such as the rape of women, people displaced because of famine and the violence caused by civil war,” he explained.

Last year he was arrested by government soldiers and jailed for two months after interviewing a rape victim.

After lots of international pressure I was released but I was told by the soldiers that if I continued with my journalism I would be killed, like so many of my colleagues,” he said.

Fearing for their lives Abdi and Manouri, along with other activists from around the world, came to the UK to The Centre for Applied Human Rights, at York University, which hosts a Protective Fellowship Scheme for human rights defenders at risk.

Under the scheme, up to ten defenders per year are able to join the centre for training, networking and rest from a difficult working environment.

Abdi added:

I live in one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist and an activist but I need to be brave and speak out about what is happening in my country. We need to continue our work to make sure we can live in a peaceful world where everyone has the right to be heard and enjoy their life.

“The Centre for Human Rights helps us to come to an environment that is not hostile and meet other people from around the world who are facing similar issues.”

Politics teacher at The King’s Academy Jenni Yuill added:

For our students, hearing from Manouri and Abdi gives them a real international perspective in terms of developing their political studies.

“It brings home the reality of what is happening in the world and how people like Manouri and Abdi are working to change things for the better.”