We have three sons aged 23, 20 and 15 and they have all attended the same local boys’ comprehensive school in Lewisham, south-east London. Our youngest is about to enter his GCSE year and will probably continue there for sixth form; our eldest has recently graduated and is now working in London whilst our middle son has just completed his first year of university.
There were a number of reasons why we chose a local comprehensive school for our boys. Firstly, although at that time the school’s results were not that good (they have improved significantly in the last 10 years!) we were very impressed with the commitment and vision of the head teacher and his staff. We felt that together with our support they would be able to offer our boys a good education. Secondly, we did not want our sons having to travel too far out of their community for school; this was the area where we felt called to build church and we wanted our children to grow up as part of it. We wanted them to make friends locally and not to have to travel to a neighbouring borough when involved in extra-curricular activities. We also liked the fact that they would be mixing with a great variety of people, and not only with those similar to them. Lastly, we felt that our local schools needed the support of church families.
There have been times over the last years when it has not always been easy. One of our sons experienced bullying for a while, which was very difficult. However, we were able to work with the school through this and he became a stronger character as a result. Although the school is well-disciplined, there were times when lessons were disrupted by certain pupils. Our children had to choose not to be drawn in and not to let it affect them. Overall, however, we have been very pleased with the choice we made and our boys would say they have benefitted from the experience. In fact, our middle son moved to a Bromley school after his GCSEs but lasted only a week before returning to his old school – he missed the racial and social diversity of Lewisham!
Our children have grown up with an awareness of the broad spectrum of people in our society which we believe has prepared them well for life. They have developed excellent social skills and the ability to get on with most people. Each of them was given leadership responsibilities and have all done well, not just academically, but also in sport and music. Through their time at the school they learned to defend their faith in often hostile contexts, and I am glad to say that they are all still going on with God.