Following on from last weeks front page article, international supermodel and entrepreneur, David Gandy, visited his former schools, Sunnymede Junior School and The Billericay School last Thursday.
David returned to the Billericay schools not only as a former pupil, but also as an ambassador for award-winning education charity Achievement for All, which works in partnership with schools to raise outcomes for all children and young people, irrespective of background, challenge or need.
He shared his journey from school to stardom and encouraged all children and young people to aspire and dream without limits.
David had lunch with some of the children and spent time talking to them about what teachers he had when he attended Sunnymede and where he grew up in Little Burstead in Billericay and chatted to them about their futures and going to university.
David said: “It was strange but amazing to visit my old schools today. The last time I was at Billericay school, I was walking away with my A level results. I really enjoyed meeting all the children that our charity is helping.
“Some parents unfortunately had a bad experience at school and unintentionally pass that on to their children. Achievement for All, try to build confidence in the children despite what may be happening in their home life.”
The Headteacher of Sunnymede Ronnie Branch said: “It’s a real boost for our children to have David come in today. He has funded the project for us for two years and it’s important that the children have someone they can look up to involved in the project.
“As part of the project we have engaged parents and have enhanced the nurturing element to our teaching.
“David has given the message today that it is hard work is what it takes to achieve your dreams and getting a good start early on is important.”
Elliot, 10 suffered a loss in his family last year and met with David at the event said: “I was suffering with some anger issues and had a short temper but the charity have really helped me with my learning and self-confidence. The teachers have been really supportive.
“It was brilliant to meet David today and he is a role model to us here at school. I only found out yesterday that I would get to meet him and I was very excited.”
Professor Sonia Blandford who is the CEO and founder of Achievement for All said: “The charity was set up to engage and educate parents. It promotes hard work and it encourages parents and schools to understand that every child is unique.
“We set up a pilot eight years ago with 3 members of staff. We now have 140 permanent staff and 5000 schools involved including many in Essex.”
Following a year of working with Achievement for All, both The Billericay School and Sunnymede Junior School have received recognition in their Ofsted inspections and made great progress.
Family engagement has been praised for improving pupil attendance at Sunnymede, while The Billericay School’s use of pupil premium funding and regular parent, carer and teacher discussions have also boosted their pupils’ achievement.