It’s not often that a new sixth form is founded in SE16! This year is the first time that Harris Academy Bermondsey (HAB) has offered students a focus on the A Levels preferred by the top universities and we took the opportunity of this new move to talk to one of this new group of girls about her experience as a student at HAB. Morgan Edmonds is sixteen and is taking History, English Literature, Biology and Maths A Levels in HAB6.
“…We’re looking at how human anatomy compares with insects and fish. …”
“It’s great being able to stay with all my friends,” said Morgan. “We have been able to stay on rather than go off to different schools and start again with new teachers. In my five years here, I’ve really enjoyed being part of a lovely community and since I live just round the corner near Spa Gardens, I can still just walk to school.” Morgan has had a successful time with her GCSEs getting good grades in a mixture of subjects from Religious Studies to Maths. She clearly enjoys her life at school and talks confidently about her daily life.
“My day starts when my alarm goes off at 06:50. I shower and get dressed and have breakfast – Shreddies and tea today since you ask! Then at 08:00 I walk into school each day but I get in early on Thursdays for Maths tutorial at 07:30. I head to the Common Room to pick up my stuff so that I’m ready to join my mentor group with Miss Harvey at 08:30 for 15 minutes. We talked through our plans for half term this morning. Then I had an hour’s Biology with Miss Cowley. We looked at how haemoglobin goes around the body this morning. We’re looking at how human anatomy compares with insects and fish. After that, I had an hour’s Maths with Miss Hodgson. We were practicing answering questions from A Level papers about differentiation.”
“…We’re looking at other people’s plays at the moment – plays that have won or come runner-up in competitions…”
GDR and Streetcar
The breaks have to be well-drilled exercises for a school of the size of HAB. A one-way system operates for all the girls moving between classes and out into the playground. At 10:55, Morgan made her way to the newly created and equipped Common Room to catch a banana snack and finish off her history paper. “At the moment, we’re looking at the way the German Democratic Republic (GDR) developed under communism. I had to complete a paper on the way Erich Honecker stabilised the GDR economy in the 1970s for my class at 12:15. Then I headed over to Miss McFadden’s class on English Literature. First we watched a video of a stage adaptation of the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams; then we talked about the way the staging changed our thinking about the play.”
“The history class at 12:15 started with us reading and marking each other’s work against the criteria. That’s only the first stage as Miss Harris also marks them later! After half the lesson, we broke for lunch. I went to the Common Room again and had a ham sandwich, a couple of sausage rolls and some water. Then at 13:15 we were put into pairs to pool our knowledge about the way Honecker created a national identity for the GDR. Once we’d done it in one pair we could add our knowledge to the other pairs’ sheets. That was the end of classes for me today as I had two hours of ‘independent study’ when I can get on with homework in the Common Room.”
“…I’ve really enjoyed being part of a lovely community here…”
Life and all that
As well as studying, Morgan has time at school to fill out her education. “Each week, we meet with New Views from the Old Vic to work on play-writing. We’re looking at other people’s plays at the moment – plays that have won or come runner-up in competitions – to see how they are structured and shaped. We are also working our way through an anthology of poetry, reading some of the best English verse. On Thursdays, I’m learning how to row; at the moment we’re learning on machines in the hall but in the summer, I hope we will get a chance to go on the Thames!”
“After school at 16:00, I walk home and wind down with my mum or I might watch some videos for a while. At about 17:00, I get down to homework writing papers for English or History and answering exam questions for Maths and Biology. We eat dinner about 18:30 and then I finish off my work by about 20:00. I’ll often chat to friends on the phone or watch YouTube or get on with other stuff until I fall asleep about 23:00.”
With huge thanks to Morgan for her time and to Lyndsay Harris for the privilege of getting to see the way their sixth form works.