Gillingham School provides education for all types of young people in our area: boys and girls; rich and poor; academic, sporty, artistic, practical or caring. Students achieve across the whole breadth of school life and all its facets – they are a credit to their school, their families and themselves, and we are very proud of them.
We continue to see a huge amount and pace of change in education, alongside the increasing emphasis on using results data to tell our story, and that of our students. Of course, excellent exam results are crucial to the future life choices of students, but data can reduce us to less than we are. Exam results aren’t the only things of value that comes from an education, and for some they aren’t even the most important thing that they will take away from their time at school.
We believe in the value of education in its broadest sense:
- that may be excellence in sport, or enthusiasm for engaging in a healthy lifestyle;
- it may be the skills to play a musical instrument or a lifelong appreciation of the arts;
- some will take a particular skill or knowledge that they have learned, that is important to them;
- some will leave with a sense of what is right, of how to treat others and how to manage oneself
and, of course, we are determined that each individual will leave with the very best exam results that they could possibly achieve, to support them as they progress through their adult lives.
At an open day for former students, we asked them ‘What will you most remember about your time at Gillingham School? Was it that lesson you had … on a November day, I think it was a Wednesday and raining – period 3 in the morning … or will you remember the friends that you have made, or a special teacher who will have a particular impact on you, or a school trip that you have been on, and will still be talking about in 30 years’ time?’. Those former students definitely couldn’t remember that lesson!
We aim to ensure that the values, traditions and successes of Gillingham School are maintained and built upon, while responding and reacting to the needs of a modern society, which will be as different to the next generation as today is to the previous one. However, change should not alter the core principles on which this school has been built over the centuries. The school was founded by people in the community, who believed that education should be available to all, independent of wealth; and today it is the one secondary school in the town, providing education for all. Even in the early days, the curriculum did not always follow the accepted norms of the time; instead the children were taught those things that were felt to be important both to them as individuals, and to the wider community; today we resist pressures to make decisions for the benefit of the statistics; rather we set a curriculum that we believe is in the best interests of students. Founders, headteachers and governors have been people of honour who have tried to educate the young people of Gillingham to be worthy citizens and good people; today we strive to follow the Golden Rule, to treat each other as we would be treated.
Gillingham School has always been part of its community, and over the years has helped to shape the town that we live in today. Over its 500+ year history, generations of local residents have been educated here, and those young people then become the parents of the next generation of children, with each generation giving its own unique contribution to the town, and our community. While retaining a sense of history, we constantly look to the future, and how we can make this great town even better for its people. By working together, both can become stronger. The voice of young people is vitally important in shaping Gillingham’s future, which is their future, and recently developed links between the school’s student council and Gillingham Town Council has given even greater opportunities to make this a reality.
In 2017, a new headteacher – Paul Nicholson – takes over the reins from Lorna Lyons. We may not be able to predict how the school will have changed by the time the current generation of students have become the proud parents themselves, but we hope that Gillingham School’s history, principles, values and ethos will remain a strong foundation for whatever challenges - and opportunities - the future brings.