Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited George Spencer Academy while on the campaign trail.
The visit took place as part of Mr Johnson’s bid for election, a big topic of discussion in school in recent weeks.
Teachers have been impressed by the levels of interest and knowledge about the election amongst the student body; as well as by the recognition that George Spencer is located in an important battleground seat. George Spencer now looks forward to welcoming candidates from other parties over the next few weeks.
While on site the Prime Minister took the opportunity to sit down for a discussion of schools funding with Spencer Academies Trust staff led by Chief Executive Paul West.
The next stop was a tour of George Spencer led by break-out stars of the day, ‘school ambassadors’ Esther Daminabo (Year 10) and Matteo Zanchettin (Year 8). Deftly negotiating the assembled press pack, the two led the way to the library, where the PM took part in a English language lesson and met trainee teachers.
A brief tour of parts of the school was accompanied by Principal Mrs Corbett and Vice-Principal Ms Gordon, who took the opportunity to talk about George Spencer’s place in the community, and about the ‘ethos of excellence’ that drives GSA’s Ofsted Outstanding status.
After hearing about the school’s teacher training offer, Mr Johnson was particularly pleased to meet George Spencer ‘School Centred Initial Teacher Training’ graduates Stewart Laing and Ollie Smith. A mature entrant, Stewart explained to the PM that he had chosen teaching after a seventeen-year career working with Team GB Olympic contenders.
Having overseen delivery of the 2012 London Olympics, the Prime Minister asked a series of questions about both Stewart’s sporting past and teaching training and recruitment, with a focus on STEM teaching and maths.
After the library, the school tour continued into the art rooms, where Mr Johnson took part in a pottery class, making an Anthony Gormley inspired figure and joking that he was now ‘covered in gunk,’ before taking part in an impromtu interview led by the school ambassadors.
Pressed on what he would have been if not a politician, Mr Johnson said that he would have loved to have been an artist, declaring Matisse a personal favourite. Asked what the worst part of his job was, the Prime Minister – formerly the Foreign Secretary – showed his diplomatic side, saying that he ‘enjoyed it all.’
In total, Mr Johnson spent approximately ninety minutes at the school before thanking students and staff, and moving on to his next campaign stop.
Asked what she thought of the visit, Esther said she was very nervous about meeting Boris but described him as ‘friendly, sociable and very interested and engaged in what both the teachers and students had to say’.
Principal Mrs Corbett said: ‘Students did us proud today, showing that there are no easy answers at George Spencer. Thank you particularly to our ambassadors and to all of the school staff who worked so hard to demonstrate George Spencer’s ethos of excellence.’
Mrs Corbett said she was particularly pleased with the calibre of the teaching in lessons visited by the PM. ‘We were able to show the qualities that make George Spencer a very special school – and I was particularly impressed to see English Language students tackling some difficult questions while under the lights of the television cameras. With the kind of calm under pressure we saw demonstrated today, we know our students will go far!’