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Why I regret leaving Copthall

Posted on: 05/12/2017

In June 2014, I was in year 11 at Copthall. I was Captain of the Year 11 Netball team, President of the Yearbook Committee, Peer Mentor, Gold Ambassador for the Youth Sports Trust and Assistant Coach to the Year 7 netball team. In September 2014, I was none of these. Instead, I was just another number on a list and that was because I decided to leave Copthall. Leaving with it the friends I’d made and the relationships I’d built with my teachers. To this day, it is one of my biggest regrets.

Moving to a school where you don’t know anyone is really tough when it comes to class dynamics. There isn’t the same banter in class or the sense that you can say anything because your friends wont judge you if you’re wrong. In Copthall, as a year we were all so comfortable around each other and there was such a great sense of unity. I remember our motto as a year group was Dream Big, Aim High and Work Hard. Once you move, you don’t know those people and I realised I wasn’t as comfortable around them to speak my mind freely.

It wasn’t until the third week of term that I realised all the extra-curricular clubs at the school I’d moved to were purely academic and the netball team consisted of 3 girls – hardly a team. Still, I didn’t think much of it and thought I didn’t have time for sports with the workload I had anyway. This was a huge mistake for me because it meant that school was just a purely academic atmosphere and 100% stressful. This led my attendance to drop to 64% in year 13 compared to 100% in Year 11. In Copthall there is such a huge range of extra-curricular activities and I still can’t imagine why I ever decided to walk away from that.

During my time at Copthall, I’d built a great relationship with my Head of Year, P.E teacher and Form Tutor through the time I spent with them during extra-curricular clubs and after school. They knew my strengths and weakness and knew when to push me to work harder (Shout-out to Ms Abbasnejad for being the best help!). I was comfortable around them to just hang out and talk about informal topics and that made it easier to approach them if I was struggling with academics or needed advice on anything. This was non-existent at my sixth form because the teachers didn’t know me. When I did badly at an essay, they thought that was my usual standard and didn’t question it. The people that will help you the most in school and get you where you want are your teachers at Copthall, even when I left they still helped me in more ways than I could imagine. They’re invested in you. They’re honestly so underrated so appreciate them and the help they give you and if you don’t have a relationship with your teachers - build one!

I applied to study Psychology and Philosophy in year 13 and it was my former Head of Year at Copthall that encouraged me to aim high and helped me with my personal statement. She helped me in so many ways because she knew so much about me. She recommended I include my experiences in Egypt and my interests in GTMO because she knew that information about me. My psychology teacher at my new school merely offered grammatical changes to my personal statement. Not only did my sixth form teachers not know my interests, they ranked happiness as coming second to success. So they had it instilled in us that our degree options were either Medicine, Law, Oxford or Cambridge.

I ended up applying for Experimental Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford and was offered a place. This was a great experience for me to prove that Oxbridge isn’t just for privileged, private school students, even a girl from Grahame park could do it! However, it wasn’t until a week before I was due to start that it hit me that I actually didn’t want to do this course. It was what my teachers wanted me to do and somehow I ended up thinking that it was my dream. It’s enough stress going through UCAS once, to end up having to do it twice!

However, I’m now studying Anthropology and Law at LSE, a course I wanted to do and a course I got accepted on with the help of my Copthall teachers. At Copthall, you’re not just encouraged to aim high, but you’re encouraged to study whatever you want to study. You make the decision with your teachers’ full support. It’s something you don’t get in places where teachers don’t know you. Don’t make my mistake and go through UCAS twice. Get it right the first time by staying at Copthall which will make it that much easier. Dream Big, Aim High, Work Hard…and stay at Copthall!

Ranim Taha

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