Matilda & Miss Honey

It’s not often that I feel compelled to sit down and write a spontaneous personal post, but I’m feeling strangly sentimental at the moment for my school days, so I thought I would tell you about them and what they meant to me. I hope that this will help someone who is finishing up at primary school and worried about moving up to high school, or who is currently at high school and not enjoying it.

I’m 31 (32 next month- eek!) and I left high school in 2002- 14 years ago. I went to Williamwood High School in East Renfrewshire and I don’t think I could remember that place more fondly if I tried. The site of my old school is now luxury flats, but I still have two bricks from the demolition. I had a small group of friends, but I was never popular amongst my peers- I was the keen one who got on too well with our teachers for fellow pupils to be able to trust me with their secrets and their bad behaviour. It was the teachers that made me love my school, not the pupils. I was bullied and picked on, but I always felt safe with a full squad of staff around me.

Now that I’m nearly 32 and am married, I still count my years at Williamwood as the best years of my life and I think they always will be. I had a lovely home life, but that school was still like a sanctuary for me. I used to even visit for a couple of hours on my birthday during exam study period as I couldn’t bear not to spend part of my special day there. I feel sorry for people (which is mostly everyone) who didn’t have that relationship with their school and get everything out of it that I did.

There was a small group of teachers (Mrs N, Mrs M, Mrs H, Mrs McK, Mr R and my headmaster Mr McKenzie who has sadly passed away now) that I truly loved and who had a huge positive impact on me. I will remember them for life, but I still have lunch with two of them now. Little do they all know, I would still do anything in the world for these 5 people at the drop of a hat for the rest of my days. They were good honest people, they made me feel safe, gave me confidence in myself, gave me their friendship when I didn’t have lots of it and eased my pain at having to leave school at the end of 6th year- I have anxiety and can’t stand change. They let me still go on school trips after I left and help at school events too; they made sure that I knew I could always visit for chats (and I did at least 200 times during university); and they allowed me to basically move back in for 5 weeks in 2006 to organise the school reunion when the building was being demolished.

High school is so important and I urge anyone not enjoying it, or worrying about starting it, to remember this. Dig a little deeper and find your place. Get everything you can out of it by volunteering for all the after-school activities too- you will never get the those times back again. If you don’t have many friends or are being bullied, look for advice and friendships elsewhere like I did.

I do still have two fellow pupil friends who were in my year at school, and every time we see each other (around every month) our conversations always drift back to our school days and we always say that we don’t feel any different from the day we left. It’s true, and I still miss Williamwood with as much ferocity as I did in 2002.

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