A Past Pupil's Speech
The following is a former pupil's speech, delivered at our Awards Evening in 2022.
It has been 5 years since left Pilgrim, it feels like a lifetime ago thinking about it now but at the same time it doesn’t feel like 5 minutes ago since I was getting in my taxi for the last time.
Like most of you here I had preconceived notions of how my time at Pilgrim would go. Would I fit in? Would I make friends? Would it be like mainstream school? I thought I would be labelled as a weirdo or special for attending a school like this and the people there would also be the same, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In a way we were all part of a dysfunctional family, we all had our quirks and issues, but we were always there for each other no matter what and I hope you all had the same experience also.
Pilgrim for me was a rollercoaster of emotions, with many ups, downs and challenges along the way, it wasn’t easy by any means but I made it through and am still standing, although that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the staff at Pilgrim as well as the friends which I made there.
I’m not going to bore you too much as I am sure you have heard it all before but my story of Pilgrim is probably much like the rest of yours. I started in year 7 and struggled with mental health problems which caused me not to fit into mainstream school. Unlike some of my friends my re-integration to mainstream was unsuccessful. I tried a few times but we concluded that being with my dysfunctional family was the best fit.
At the start of my journey, and even halfway through, I never thought I would finish school let alone leave with 8 GCSE’s. This wouldn’t have been possible without the staff pushing me to achieve and having the faith in me to do so. When it came to year 11 we all were impacted by the unexpected loss of one of our own. I never thought I would get through this but I had never felt so much support and guidance than I did through this time, without my teachers and friends I never would have made it. We had our time to grieve, to remember but were also shown the way forward.
Fast forward from this to leaving school, I was so nervous for what was to come. Pilgrim had been my safe place for the last 5 years and I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do or even how I would get by without the staff and my friends. With their help I was able to decide on my next steps, I was to go to college and do my A-levels which I would hopefully then be able to go into nursing.
I ended up receiving average grades, C’s and D’s mainly, only what I needed. The idea of college and A-levels went completely out of the window once I left school and I decided to apply for some apprenticeships, I just didn’t feel like college was the right thing for me. Although I had zero experience, I had no idea what to expect, all I could do was be honest and myself, I mean what else could I do…
Fortunately for me, they liked me and I was given the position, the hard work didn’t stop here, I had to work my butt off just to keep my head above water, it wasn’t easy but I made it through. I had to make an impression on the people around me. Again this was by me just being myself and showing that they hired the right person for the job. It was so scary being the teenager walking into an office full of adults, I felt so out of my comfort zone. My key to success was by introducing myself to one person at a time, from this more people knew who I was, that I could be trusted and from there it only went upwards.
I am now 21 (almost 22) years old and in my 4th position in the same business, I have completed 3 apprenticeships as well as various other qualifications and can now say I am a qualified team leader. The hope is that a position will become available for me to move into the management team next year. For now, I am happy with the job I am in and the fancy title on my e-mail signature.
Like I have said this would not have been possible without the help and support of everyone at The Pilgrim School, it will always hold a place in my heart and be somewhere I am very fond of.
Something I have learnt is, don’t let your setbacks keep you down, it may not be an easy journey but you will get to where you want to be in the end. Your journey doesn’t end with Pilgrim, it is only the beginning, take from it what you can and use this to get to where you want to be.
I just wanted to add due to all the support given to me by the school my grandad has given his time to become one of the school governors to ensure that it continues to help people like it did for me, to continue staying the safe place that helps everyone no matter their issues or differences.
I am proud to say I went to The Pilgrim School, if anyone asks where you went to school don’t be ashamed to say it, you ended up there for a reason and look at you all sat here now continuing your journey, it’s scary but you’ll get through it.
Thank you everybody.