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Leadership Likes: Mrs Pattison

When I took over the role of Headmistress of Croydon High School, GDST in 2016, I had a few things on my to do list that I felt were very important. For example, we wanted to re-brand and update our website, we also felt it was time for a change of school motto. But, first and foremost on the list, before we could begin to meet any of the other challenges, I wanted to get to know the school and you all – or at least those pupils who were here at the time – as well as the staff, parents and the whole Croydon High community. I could already tell this was a very special school but I wanted to understand it fully, to really capture the heart and soul of Croydon High. I remember the many meetings when we tried to articulate this most crucial of messages … how do we convey to the world what is so special about Croydon High?

Very genuinely, answering this question didn’t take long. It was quickly clear that what is so special is … its people – all of you. We identified that Croydon High girls are so confident because they are so engaged in school life and that, alongside these qualities, you are that powerful combination of ambitious and compassionate. I remember those first few weeks in post, such a large number of pupils visited my office to introduce themselves and say hello! So many took the time to offer a ‘welcome’ and tell me what you loved about the school. Honestly, I had never experienced such a warm and genuine welcome to a school before; you are, simply, absolutely unique!

This made me so excited about the future of the school and so proud to be its Headmistress. I would really encourage you, therefore, to show Ms Davies the same kind of welcome when she starts because I can’t tell you the difference it makes. I have no doubt you will!

So, having defined what made Croydon High so special, it was then really quite easy to articulate our mantra and our motto. EVERY GIRL, EVERY DAY simply turned up as a phrase in one of our SLT meetings and ‘May Her Character and Talents Inspire Others’, although it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily, was also the obvious wording for the new motto. You have absolutely lived up to it in every way and that feeling of pride and excitement about the school has never left me since.

Six years later, this letter would not be able to do justice to your numerous accomplishments over the years which have made me so proud! Some of these will be as impressive as national awards and recognition for your character and talents, some might be competitions or achievements within school and many will simply be moments when we realise that one of you has overcome a huge challenge to achieve their success. We have begun every single Senior Leadership Team meeting celebrating your successes and achievements but whether these have been celebrated publicly or personally, these moments have all been equally significant to me.

It occurs to me, six years on, that you perhaps have no idea how incredible you are as a pupil body – both collectively but also individually! Surrounded, as you are, by other incredible and excellent people, you perhaps take for granted things like…  how kind you are to each other, how hard you work, how determined you are and just how exceptionally talented each and every one of you is, sometimes in your own way and at your own thing.  I am going to miss you all very much indeed.

You also have an incredible body of staff, both teaching and support staff who are so committed, so fun, such warm, lovely and dedicated people who put you – their pupils – first and who love their jobs. I am so grateful to them for their significant contribution over the past few years which has meant that we have been able to achieve most of the things that were on that initial to do list. I am really going to miss each one of our staff and wish them all the best of luck for the future in their careers and their personal lives.

The Senior Leadership Team at Croydon High is made up of the most astonishingly committed and talented people I could ever have hoped to work with. I have cherished my time with each one of them as a colleague and hope to continue to do the same as a friend in the future. Good luck to them all – I am sure we will keep in touch!

Pupils, you are so lucky to have these people – teaching and support staff and senior leaders – working with you and for you.

You are also very lucky to have such caring and invested parents. They love the school and have been more supportive of the school and of me personally than I could possibly have ever wished them to be. Thank you!

Your school governors, led so brilliantly by the Chair of Governors, Lesley Lipczynski, and the new alumnae governing body, led equally brilliantly by the Deputy Chair of Governors, Caroline Gulliver, have also worked very hard indeed with me and the Senior Leadership Team over the years to secure the very best education for you that we collectively could.

Finally, you should know that in Cheryl Giovannoni, the CEO of GDST, you have the most outstanding role model and inspirational leader you could hope for. All of the team at GDST have been fantastic and I am grateful to them on your behalf but also personally for their support of me and of the school.

In closing, I ask you to remember how special you are as a group of pupils and remember what makes each of you unique within that group! Croydon High will continue to go from strength to strength and you – all of you – will play a huge role in that, either as pupils or as alumnae in the Ivy Link, because this will always be your school and you will always be welcome in it!

It has been the most wonderful privilege being your Headmistress for six years. I wish each and every one of you the very best for the future. I hope you will reflect on your school years as times of happiness that have helped shape the person you will become. I hand the school over to Ms Davies and she will have her own to do list, equally as long and ambitious as mine was, I am sure! Like me, she will revel in your character and talents and the school will continue to thrive as a result.

Yours with the warmest and very best wishes for your future,

Mrs Pattison


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