Never was the expression “all good things come to an end” more true. It was with a bittersweet feeling for me that my year 11 class trooped into my classroom last week for the last time following their final English GCSE exam for a glass of (sadly) non-alcoholic champagne and a slice of cake so that I could bid them a very fond adieu and tell them what an amazing class they’ve been to teach.
For most of the class, we have been together since I started at Fyling Hall three years ago and it has been and will always remain one of my favourite classes ever to have taught. Not only are they an industrious lot but are fun, funny, and enthusiastic and, if that isn’t enough, they actually laugh at my jokes (well, some of them did…sometimes…anyway… but you can’t have everything!).
Tomas is, without exception, the most dedicated student I have every heard of and his ability to analyse language, interpret Shakespeare, and play with poetry (he particularly enjoyed going through ‘My Last Duchess’) was equalled only by Toby who, with a similarly acute and alacritous mind wrote some particularly dark and disturbing stories in the ‘Scandi-Noir’ style which both delighted me and terrified his mother in equal measure. Their abilities are almost boundless and have been regularly turning in A-Level, even undergraduate level essays for some time!
Although taking advice might not be one of Georgina’s principal attributes, determination most certainly is. Getting through to the National Finals of the Rotary Youth Poetry competition was a superb effort and we are all of us, incredibly proud of her. Never shy of criticising my choice of texts, my expectations, nor my sense/lack of humour, Georgina can be, quite simply, terrifying when she chooses; she is a wonderful force of nature, and she will be most sincerely missed.
Matilda, the Warrior Princess, always so unassuming and so quiet worked extraordinarily well and made sure and steady progress and will, I know, have done herself proud in these examinations – she is so much more capable than she believes. Although she improved in all areas of her English, it is Matilda’s creative writing that has become so especially captivating to read.
Maya joined us in Year 10 and despite a reluctance to let me even look at a piece of her work until it was properly finished, will, I know, have done well in her exams. She has worked at a steady pace over the last couple of years, has consumed an incredible array of classical literary titles, and has not stopped improving. Her catchphrase ‘Please don’t read it out loud’ whenever I had a look at her responses will stay with me for a long time to come.
And Sophie. Always a hard worker, Sophie went to another level this year in terms of her output – joining Tomas and Toby in flooding my inbox at all hours of the day and night with work to be marked and then re-doing any pieces that I felt had not been to her usual high standard and re-submitting them until they were perfect. I am sure that she will get and will thoroughly deserve some superb grades from these examinations.
Throughout lockdown, they remained my stalwart companions online and never stopped working, turning up to our virtual lessons, turning in essay after essay; never missing a beat which put us in terrific shape for these GCSEs. And throughout holidays and sicknesses (the dreaded Covid) we found ways of carrying on: from my conducting lessons on Shakespeare and Dickens in the streets of Gothenburg during the holidays to their participating in them from all corners of the globe whatever the time differences may have been for them or whatever else they might have been doing!
The word ‘nostalgia’ means ‘a sentimental yearning for the past’ and has its roots in two Greek words ‘nostos’ meaning ‘turning to home’ and ‘algos/algia’ meaning ‘pain’ (as in neuralgia) and it is in this sense, the sort of pain of remembering something wonderful that is gone and that cannot be re-lived that I will remember this wonderful class as they embark upon the next steps of their academic careers; some remaining with us at Fyling Hall and others moving further afield but I know that I will always retain a very real affection and sense of gratitude for this class as well as a very strong sense of pride in everything they have achieved and a sadness that it has all come to an end – as all good things have a tendency of doing.
Chris Thomas, Head of English