Joanna | Streatham & Clapham High School

"Throughout those vulnerable teenage years SCHS provided me with a secure environment not only for academic and physical training, but also for personal development".

SCHS Pupil 1998-2005

People say that your school days are your best days; I can certainly say that my seven years at SCHS are some of the most memorable in my life. Throughout those vulnerable teenage years SCHS provided me with a secure environment not only for academic and physical training, but also for personal development. Looking back, I realise how well that environment prepared me for the uncertain path ahead.

Making choices has never been my strong point; that’s why I opted for the broad-ranging Natural Sciences MSci at UCL. Somehow or other I ended up specialising in Medical Physics; I am now in the second year of my PhD and my research involves measuring blood flow through tumours using a novel technique called Photoacoustics. I have flown twice to San Francisco to present the results of my work at an International Conference. It is exciting to have reached this point, but I still look back with gratitude to my time at SCHS.

There are three things about SCHS that I hope will never change; the first is discipline. I wasn’t exactly the sort of girl to run riot, but I still feel I benefited from the rigorous rules, deadlines and timetables: basic organisation skills such as turning up prepared and on time are invaluable in all walks of life. The school nurtured a hardworking ethos that I think has stayed with me ever since. It wasn’t just about reaching the top – it was how we got there: effort was graded as well as attainment. Throughout school, university, work and home life I have found that self discipline and motivation is usually the key to success; SCHS certainly trained us to work hard and pull our weight.

Another thing I will always be grateful for is the wealth of opportunities offered at SCHS. We didn’t just work hard within the curriculum; we were encouraged to participate in as many extra-curricular activities as possible. My lunchtimes were spent running science clubs, playing netball, playing in orchestra, singing in choir, sewing…Other opportunities included helping out at the Junior School and participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. In the Sixth Form every girl took the Community Sports Leaders’ Award, which was an excellent opportunity to develop confidence; in addition we were each expected to take on an extra level of responsibility within the school, whether it was lunchtime duty or roles such as subject prefect or deputy head girl. My position in the head girl team did a huge amount to boost my public speaking and leadership skills. This has encouraged me to broaden my experience at UCL: teaching sign language, running volunteering projects, representing my peers at staff-student committee.
Probably the thing I loved most about SCHS was the personal care: our needs were catered for on an individual basis. During GCSE years each girl was allocated a personal tutor, and similarly in the Sixth Form. Those tutorials were important in helping me to make and meet targets, and decide my future directions. The support I received at SCHS not only helped me settle into UCL, it has also inspired me to help out in various tutoring, mentoring and student buddy schemes: I hope that in some small way I can do for others what SCHS did for me.

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