The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall recently visited my old secondary school Uxbridge High. It was to mark the 10 year anniversary of the charity Teach First, which the Prince is patron of.
Teach First is an independent charity working to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment which is greater in the UK than in almost any other developed country. The charity works with schools by recruiting top graduates with the potential to become exceptional teachers.
Uxbridge High was one of the first to partner with the Teach First a decade ago, providing inspirational teachers from its graduate scheme. Over the past ten years, Uxbridge High has employed 31 Teach First participants. Over that same period the school has seen the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C GCSE grades double, reflecting the positive impact the charity has had on the school.
Uxbridge High School head teacher Peter Lang called the royal visit a significant event in the history of the school.
Mr Lang added: "Our 10 year partnership has proven to be a great success, and has had an enormous impact on raising standards, expectations and belief within the school."
Teach First's Participant President James Townsend also attended, introducing the Royal couple to Teach First teachers including head of maths Will Wright.
Mr Townsend called Uxbridge High a great example of a school that has seen transformational change over the 10 years since partnering with Teach First. He said they told the story of charity really well, as the 31 participants who have gone through the school have been instrumental in turning it into one of the country's most improved schools.
The Royal couple experienced a host of pupil performances, including a precession led by traditional Indian Dhol drummers and an urban adaption of Romeo and Juliet by drama students. The Prince took the chance to chat and shake hands with students throughout the day, as well as meeting Uxbridge MP John Randall.
Mr Townsend added: "There was a great moment when the school drummers led a procession across the playground, you could see and hear how excited everybody was."
Prince Charles also sat in on a maths lesson, while The Duchess of Cornwall attended a literary class. Current Teach First teacher and Uxbridge's head of English Katherine Corrigall, updated The Duchess on the work the school had been doing to raise literacy standards, as well as inviting her to hear pupils read passages from their favourite books.
Together the couple enjoyed a special poem created for their visit by Uxbridge High's poet laureate 11-year-old Daniel Pitts, as well as the school motto: 'Making Success Happen' recited by pupils in an array of languages, including Welsh, to honour the Royal visitors.
A plaque was also unveiled to commemorate the 10-year partnership between the school and the charity, while the Prince thanked the school for such a warm welcome.
Teach First Founder and CEO Brett Wigdortz said: "The journey Uxbridge's staff and pupils have embarked on should inspire pupils and teachers across the country to believe that no child's educational success will be limited by their socio-economic background.
"But Uxbridge is not unique, across the country hundreds of schools that partner with Teach First are seeing improved results. In fact, government data shows that between 2010 and 2011 these schools have seen their GCSE results improve at twice the rate of schools nationally."
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