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Business Manager - Zoë Keen

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School – My Journey


When I was 4 years old I started school. The school consisted of four houses together in Muswell Hill in North London and it was opposite a cinema. The school was called Whittingham School which sadly no longer exists. The school was owned by a mother and daughter who were of Dutch origin. They were extremely strict and used to walk around the school followed by their dog called Sailor who was a greyhound. I wore a dark brown blazer and velvet hat in the winter and check dress and straw hat in the summer. I can remember I was very proud wearing my school uniform and kept my blazer and hat long after I left the school. My brother and I used to take a bus to school and then when I was eight I was allowed to take the bus alone. It was a time when the world felt a safe place to be in, and a time when in the summer holidays the sun shone every day and I played out all day only coming home for dinner. I was a tom boy climbed trees, played football, went swimming and rode my bike, I was never in and the summer seemed to last a year.


At school when I was four/ five I remember we used to have to take a nap in the afternoon after lunch. Lunch was always great we started off with soup it was always tomato soup made in the school kitchen followed by hot pot or some other delicious dish, followed by a pudding. Then came SMASH (a potato substitute) and lunch with potatoes was never quite the same. We were not allowed to talk at the table whilst we were eating, and if we did we would spend the rest of lunch with hands on heads in the corner, before being punished by the Headmistress at the end of lunch. Unfortunately I liked to talk so I spent a lot of time in the corner. After lunch the teacher would lay down blankets on the stone floor in a really large bathroom area and the class would have to lie down and sleep. Sometimes it was so cold you couldn’t sleep so you just had to pretend to sleep otherwise you got told off.


I stayed at Whittingham from when I was 4 till I was 11years old. I remember hating being late, but as we lived a bus ride away it was sometimes difficult to get there on time. If I was late I had to go to the headmistress room. I remember it well, the Headmistress had the most enormous bee hive hairdo you have ever seen and in winter and summer she would have a roaring fire behind her desk and sailor the dog would lie in front of it. I would then have to sit in the corner and write lines of “ I must not be late”. My poor mum and dad would have be mortified if they knew this, but I don’t remember ever mentioning it to them, it was just what happened and you just got on with it. Thankfully I loved writing and writing poems that was my favourite thing to do. Every morning from when we were six years old we used to open our desk tops as we had our own desks, take out our ink pots and ink pens and we had fifteen minutes to write in our diary. The top half of the page was blank so that we could do a drawing and bottom half was large lines so that we could write what we had done the previous day. I can remember I was extremely neat and would take my time to write properly. I would rub out word after word if it was not sitting on the line correctly when I used a pencil and then when I used my ink pen my hand would be covered in ink as I blotted the words to get them dry with blotting paper. I loved school and I loved to learn and although school was strict it taught me principles and values which I carry through to today. I loved sports. I got sports girl of the year 4 years in a row and I remember in my last year at our prize giving ceremony having a cup presented to me my Peter Shilton goalie of Tottenham Hotspurs.


I loved singing too, and every morning in assembly we would sing. I especially liked Harvest songs like ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’ which was my favourite, apart from Christmas carols which I loved and still do love to sing. I loved this time of the year and still have my carol book. Sometimes when I go into the attic at my mums house i bring out my carol book and sing Christmas carols even in the summer. I was very sad when I left Whittingham as it had been a big part of my life and taught me a lot I felt part of a large family and a new school seemed very scary. We moved to Milton Keynes, which was going to be a new town it was just a drawing on a board and had not yet been built. I went to Rickley School which was the closest to my home again a bus ride away, but this time it was a school bus. There was no school uniform and I found it hard to know what to wear. In those days if you didn’t wear what was in fashion you didn’t fit in. I didn’t really fit in, and I really wanted to wear a uniform again. I only stayed there a year before moving to secondary and I couldn’t wait in the hope of making new friends.


I started at Denbigh School which was based in Bletchley and did as much sports as I could. Every lunch time I played netball, basketball, hockey or tennis depending on the weather and represented the school in every sport. I stayed on in the sixth form and then went onto Bletchley College to study. I wanted to learn french but didn’t find it easy studying the language at school or college so I went to live in Paris and studied at the L’Institute Catholique de Paris whilst working as an au pair. I stayed for two and half years and met up again with a friend this summer after more than thirty years. My best memories though are of my first school which gave me the tools to be the person I am today.


What Shepherdswell means to me……..

When I came to Shepherdswell in 2009, I knew I had big shoes to step into, as the lady who I took over from had been at Shepherdswell for 20 years. However I needn’t have worried the school invited me in with open arms. The staff and children couldn’t have been more welcoming and I felt warmth like when you walk into your home after a long day and the fire is on. Being at Shepherdswell is magical there is something in the walls, in the building itself that makes you want to be there. The staff are the most amazing and put in hours over and above to make sure that the children have the best education possible, everybody goes out of their way to be the best that they can possible be and we all take pride in our school. There have been a number of changes over the years but one thing for sure remains the same and that is the dedication of the team who work in the school with the knowledge that the children are our future and that they have the best start in life through the education they get at Shepherdswell. When I show people around the school I feel proud. Proud of the children and their achievement and pride in all that we are about and all that we care about. The children do us proud and they have a way of making you smile. I hope that when the children look back in years to come they think of our school with fondness and happy memories and know that we gave them the very best tools to be able to learn, because we taught them to read and to write and we cared.

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