My closest friend at Thomas Tallis arrived after I finished GCSE, and after we had left the old Tallis building to enter a new one.
It was a chap named Jake Bacon, and we met on the first day of Sixth-Form. He came from a famous private school in Catford called St. Dunstan's. Back then, I thought private school kids were a bit odd, and the idea of forming a close friendship with one of them seemed inconceivable - like befriending a member of the Royal Family.
But Jake kept cropping up in all my lessons. In Sixth-Form, I only chose three subjects - English, History and Philosophy - and Jake was in all of them; he was the only person for which this was true.
At first, he was a shy kid. And of course, when we get to know each other, he was not shy at all, but that appearance of shyness is a running joke between us even to this day. We were inseparable because we were in the same lessons, but this connection reflected a growing genuine attachment: he became my best friend.
Our friendship may have seemed odd from the outside. I was a nerd and an introvert. Jake was many things, but he was not like that. One thing that did bond us was football. Jake loved and still loves Charlton, and I'm an Arsenal fan. We spoke devotedly about all aspects of the game, and my friendship with him enriched my love of football. Also, and this is the true sign of a close friendship, I felt comfortable being weird when I was with him.
I had many funny moments with Jake. He also hugely helped me in moments of personal crisis. I will be forever grateful to him. But more than that, I will always, in my own way, love him. The friendship that we developed is a blessing.
-- Tomiwa Owolade
Four stories reflecting on teaching and studying science at Tallis:
My tale is one of fairness on the part of Thomas Tallis school. I left Nigeria in 2008 for my A-level program in London and my journey took me to Thomas Tallis school. My mum had researched some good schools in and around our neighbourhood at Thamesmead and Thomas Tallis was one of the schools that stood out because of the diversity of backgrounds of the student, as well as, the excellent academic record of the school. I indicated interest in joining the school, attended a few interviews and it seemed a good match.
However, since I was opting to study Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics and I had a credit in my WAEC chemistry result, there was doubt about my suitability to study A-level Chemistry at Tallis. Andrew Smythe called me for a one-on-one interview to ascertain my suitability for the program. I remember I was a bit nervous prior to the interview. Notwithstanding, during the interview, I explained why I was suitable for the science program at Tallis and why I believed I was capable of getting an A in Chemistry. I remember answering a few chemistry questions to Andrew's satisfaction and passing the entrance exam that was administered
To cut the long story short, the 2 years I spent studying at Thomas Tallis and under Andrew Smythe was one I'll never forget. Andrew always pushed me to become the absolute best version of myself and I ended up becoming one of the best students in my year - averaging above 90% in all 4 subjects I took!
As long as you're dedicated and willing to work hard, there is no limit to what you can achieve at Thomas Tallis. If I could do it, you can. They have an incredible collection of talented and supportive teachers to help you realise your potential.
The sky is the limit for you!
I started at Tallis in July of 2007 for the last two weeks of term, before officially starting NQT year in September 2007. I remember panicking during my interview lesson (observed my Andy and Mary) as the presentation I had spent hours preparing wouldn’t open up. Either I did a good job or they were really desperate as I landed my first Science teaching job with Andrew Wardell as my mentor and lucky to have my friend Aysha Karim for this journey.
Tallis days in the old building hold a lot of incredible memories and looking back this is where more of the ‘golden’ moments were. There are so many amazing memories, but one that was really poignant was the farewell ball at the old site. Tallis is definitely a place where personally I did a lot of “adulting”. Starting as a fresh faced twenty something year old to getting engaged, marriage, baby and then relocating to another country altogether.
During my time at Tallis, I had the privilege of meeting and teaching amazing students who taught me something every day. It was also amazing to have people like Mary Edmond, Andy Smythe, Andrew Wardell, Phil Manning Douglas Greig and Damien Quigg to learn from and grow as a teacher. Lifelong friends were also made and I’m grateful to have had the experience I did have at Tallis. The Science department will always hold a special place in my heart along with the amazing individuals both in Science and outside of Science.
When I left Tallis in 2015, I left as lead practitioner for Science with experience of being a deputy head of year. This experience really helped me in my current role as Head of Science in an International British Curriculum School in Dubai, UAE. I often do recall wisdom/strategies shared by Mary, Andrew, Andy, Zahra, Damien, Douglas Greig, Aysha, Alex Gibson, Kerry, Hanna Webber, Zoe Drysdale, Claire and Lucy, to name but a few.
Thank you Science and thank you Tallis!
-- Jahida Janna
My first impression of Tallis was on the 5th of July 2006, a rainy, summer day. It was the first open day I had ever attended and remember it like yesterday. It was the day that I met my best friend, Daan Deol, whom I have now known for over half of my life. We first met outside the ‘temporary’ huts, who could ever forget those?
The dark and dingy science corridor in the old building has been etched into my mind for eternity. I could never forget lining up for science classes and someone switching off the lights in the corridor to wreak some mayhem. I had always been curious and fascinated about science, which is why I decided to pursue science at university and become a scientist. That wouldn’t have been possible without all my past science teachers, Mr Wardell, Ms Janna, Ms Karim, Mr Smythe, Ms Claire, Ms Stenhouse and Ms Edwards.
I stayed on at sixth form and made some amazing friends, whom I keep in touch with to this day. I owe Ms McGowan a debt of gratitude for her support in applying to university. As a first-generation university applicant, she made it possible for me to pursue my passion. I am now nearing the end of my PhD in microbiology and will be starting a postdoctoral position at the University of Birmingham.
My tutor Ms Moon was always a constant source of support and encouragement. She had made the daunting experience of secondary school less arduous, and her patience with our tutor group MO was more than admirable. It was only years later after I had left Tallis that I found out she had died from cancer. I owe you, Ms Moon, endless gratitude.
And that is what Tallis has always meant to me; the people I met and the friends I made.
-- Ilyas Alav
My first day at Tallis was a memorable one for me and my brother Michael. Growing up, we watched a lot of American movies showing high school students wearing suits to school. So, preparing for our first day at Tallis, we had our suits ironed and ready. On getting to Tallis, we were the only ones wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Everyone stared at us throughout but some students came up to us and welcomed us, making us feel at home. Instead of being embarrassed about wearing a suit, we were made to feel comfortable, which showed us first-hand the values at Tallis.
-- George Ezeanaka