Wednesday was National Thank a Teacher Day.  I hope some of my colleagues received a note of appreciation. Let’s think for a minute about where we would be without teachers and education.  Quite simply, in the dark. I don’t think it’s too sweeping a statement to say that education is the foundation of any civilised and humane society.

I wonder who your favourite teachers are or were?  Mine were Miss Walker, PE teacher and netball coach.  Mr Enghem, fearsome when riled, but a brilliant maths teacher, and Miss Lishman, who was probably only 22 when she taught me, but the 7 year old me hadn’t a clue about her age. I can still remember trying to spell ‘antiquarian’ in one of her ferociously difficult spelling tests: though I couldn’t pronounce it and had no idea what it meant!

Yesterday, both Miss Cook and Mrs Robinson went up to London to join a sizeable contingent of alumnae for drinks.  Many of them will have been taught by these two redoubtable teachers, who leave the Abbey after many years service at the end of the term. It is a huge pleasure to see students you have taught making their way in the world – as well as being accosted by anecdotes about your lessons – were they really like that?!  

For me, teaching has been the best job in the world.  (I tried finance, thinking that’s what you did after a glitzy university, but it really wasn’t for me.) And whilst the Abbey is a community made up of fallible beings, and therefore not perfect, it’s a pretty good place to spend your days, whether as a student, teacher or member of the wider staff. 

In two weeks’ time, we will have reached the end of the academic year, and for some of us, results days notwithstanding, our final day in school.  This year, I know how those students who are leaving us feel on their last day.  Ready to move to something new, but sad to be leaving the much-loved and familiar; students, colleagues and community.  

We always end our year in Senior School with our Commemoration Service for our founders and benefactors.  It’s a simple set of words that acknowledges those whose vision founded the school and those whose efforts have ensured that this vision has moved forward so that girls and young women can benefit from an education that will allow them to take their place in shaping society. For myself, Miss Cook, Mrs Robinson and other staff who are leaving, it will be especially poignant.

So I would like to say thank you for all that The Abbey has given me.  Thank you to all those students who have sat patiently through my many lessons and assemblies.  To the many parents with whom I’ve talked, who’ve allowed me to understand their daughters better. And to all those colleagues, dedicated to the education of girls and young people.  You will all be missed. With my very best wishes – thank you.

Allison Hadwin, Deputy Head Ethos and Pastoral