Having just returned from visiting Highgate Wood School – I am happy. And I am happy because the young people I met are great – and whilst there are loads of issues around knife crime and behaviour and so on and so on – the truth is that most of these young people are raring to go. It’s us who have to make their road ahead interesting, safe, full of opportunity and happy!
I addressed the Year 7 Assembly (around 200) and then did an hour Q & A with the Year 11 Sociology Class. There was a coterie of about five of them who are really, really interested in politics and having a voice – and I always enjoy talking over the issues. We were discussing the issue of having nowhere to go – and £58 million for new youth clubs across London coming on stream.
I was saying that what facilities are provided is key – as just a table tennis table won’t do it. It seems pretty clear to me that what is needed is a place to gather and socialise – that’s the main function. I know a couple of years ago a commercial company, for example, started a ‘pub’ – but a non-alcoholic ‘pub’ so young people could hang out, have coffee, juice etc. I haven’t heard how it fared – but it was that imaginative thinking that we need to try – along with sports facilities and all the usual.
I had tea with members of the school council – all bright and enthusiastic about civics and engagement. And then I toured many classrooms to see students in action. The School Council members showed me round – led by Adam Jogee – who is standing for Haringey’s Youth Parliament Rep. He had stickers for everyone and posters up around the whole school – clearly working as everyone we passed said ‘Hi Jogee’!
Highgate Wood is going through a real up period. There is an atmosphere of genuine enthusiasm amongst both pupils and staff.