09 May 2022

The Monday Briefing: Girl You're so Together

The Monday Briefing: Girl Youre so Together

What is the principle characteristic that I want students to leave the College with?

It’s not the ability to solve complex equations in Mathematics, or write cogent essays which argue effectively in History.

The key tenet I desire to see in our students as they depart is the ability to take responsibility and make things happen: to forego excuses when things are not as they wish them to be; to make progress with their lives without making other factors the reason that they don’t; to be driven, committed and focused on self-betterment, whatever life throws at them.

Last week, I discussed the importance of resilience, particularly in the current circumstances, with exams coming back to the fore.

At the end of last week, I had to make a decision regarding which of our exceptional Year 13s to put forward for the Lexden Prize.

The Lexden Prize is named in honour of Lord Lexden, ISA President and President of CIFE (the Council for Independent Education). He is a British historian, author and politician who sits as a Conservative life peer in the House of Lords. Lord Lexden is a former General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), a faithful friend to ISA and a champion of independent education in this country.

The prize celebrates the achievement of sixth formers in education at the schools of ISA Members; achievement and education are considered in the broadest sense, not just academic, and includes a pupil’s outstanding involvement in, and service to, wider aspects of school and community life, as well as their potential for the future.

Making the nomination is always a pleasure, largely because it asks me to identify someone who embodies the very characteristic that I have put above all others for students here. It’s not just about them intrinsically excelling within a certain subject or pursuit, it regards temperament, disposition and mindset.

Choosing a worthy student is always a difficult task because by the time they leave in Year 13, I like to think that these traits have been embedded within the vast majority of our students.

One, however, stands out this year.

Haboon made it clear from a very early stage that she wanted to come to Ealing Independent College and did everything she could to make them happen. She was humble but enthusiastic in interviews, stating that she had her heart set on a career in Dentistry, subsequently doing what she said she would do prior to enrolment, scoring an outstanding set of GCSE results.

From the opening days of her time here, her leadership qualities became prominent: she quickly volunteered to play her part in shaping the manifesto of the student council, and purposefully enhanced her network, both in and out of College, to give the council the best chance of making an impact and introducing change for the better. She has acted as a mentor to younger students and led several charity initiatives.

She has always worked especially hard to make the best of her talents, through online and classroom based learning, and has always impressed her teachers with her diligent, mature and measured approach, whatever the circumstances she may have found herself presented with.

A few months ago, my blog explained the success of Lara, one of her peers in Year 13, who had managed to secure offers to study Medicine at a time when doing so is arguably more difficult than ever. Haboon has, of course, had to contend with similar circumstances. For every student who has the privilege of gaining such places, there are many more who don’t quite manage it, and the criteria for success is so high that such demands equate to success just to be considered.

Haboon is one of those students. 

She has had a series of disappointments over the last few months in not securing the offers which she wanted, but has managed to maintain focus. Her approach is one of someone who will simply not give in. Everyone in the College community knows she will overcome these obstacles because of her relentless determination. The opportunity will arise and she will take it.

Though she would never want me to reveal this, Haboon’s father was the Mayor & Governor of Mogadishu and had worked for the Government as a Cabinet Minister under 3 Presidents. Prior to these senior positions, he worked as a Housing Manager at Ealing Council and was governor of 2 local schools in the local area. He died due to injuries sustained from a suicide bomber’s attack whilst chairing a meeting in his office in August 2019, one year before Haboon’s enrolment. 

I think what most impresses me about Haboon is her unwillingness to ever use her circumstances as any form of an excuse. She has six brothers and sisters, and feels it her responsibility to act as a role model for them: to demonstrate resilience, commitment and dedication on a daily basis.

In fact, everything around her acts as a driver for her, to better things. 

I have rarely met such a mature, humble and driven individual - and I have wholeheartedly nominated her for the Lexden Prize. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate.

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