Hello! My name is Mía and I joined Thomas Tallis Post 16 in September 2019. I remember being very excited and looking forward to joining a school that seemed to share my values and would hopefully encourage me in my decisions for the future - I was not disappointed.
I am currently studying for a degree in Astrophysics at Queen Mary University of London and am very proud to be a Tallis alumni. I have two younger siblings both of whom are Tallis students and I often find myself recommending Tallis to other potential students.
Although I can be quite naturally shy, I always felt confident approaching teachers for help. They made me feel comfortable from the beginning by being friendly and relaxed even while upholding behaviour and expectations in lessons, which seemed to command a very genuine form of respect from students and added to the sense of community at Tallis. Having the perspective of attending a different secondary school beforehand, really helped me to appreciate Tallis in its style of education and I always noticed the great sense of community that was there, even before I had made many friends or got to know my teachers very well, which I think is the best environment to be comfortable and focus on learning.
Tallis allowed me to pursue my interests and actively encouraged me to do so. I am a person who is passionate about a variety of subjects and I appreciate being given the opportunity to study a range of them rather than being prescribed a specific pathway, while still under the advisement of the Sixth Form team about possibilities for potential careers. I was also encouraged in the projects I was part of outside school, such as the National Youth Folk Ensemble, where I was met with enthusiasm by the music department, and even asked to share some English traditional music with my peers.
Although both of my years at Tallis were affected by the pandemic, I always noticed that there were still many enriching extracurricular activities and trips proposed to help engage students in their subjects, especially to motivate younger students but also in Post 16. In Physics a trip to CERN was proposed and in History another to Berlin. I also remember how despite lockdown, the Tallis orchestra was still able to produce a video with us all playing together.
When applying for a music degree at Cambridge, I remember being very supported by the UCAS team as well as my music teachers specifically. And although I ended up not passing the extensive process, it was a highly valuable experience from which I emerged having gained skills in interviews and having prepared my CV in advance for further UCAS applications.
I finished studying at Thomas Tallis in May 2021, and left with four A Levels in History, Music, Physics and Maths. Although I did not go on to study it, I am very proud of my A Level in History as it was a subject I had not studied at GCSE and was able to really enjoy and do well in thanks to my teachers.
I have gladly returned various times to offer my help, which I would be more than happy to continue doing in future, and that is the greatest testament I can make to my time there.
-- Mia Iles Pérez
The deaf community is currently campaigning for British Sign Language (BSL) to be officially recognised as a language of the United Kingdom. MP Rosie Cooper gave the 3rd reading to the Private Members Bill on Friday 18th March 2022, and over three thousand people - deaf, hearing, deaf-blind people, attend Trafalgar Square to rally for the BSL Bill. Tallis’ KS4 DSC students and some students from Year 10 BSL class attended the rally to support the BSL Bill. Rose Ayling-Ellis (Eastenders and Strictly 2022 winner), Nadeem Islam (Small World, The Bay, also ex Tallis student) were on stage addressing the importance of passing the BSL Bill. We met a couple of ex Tallis students, Jazzy Whipps (Youtuber) and Benny Ngo (Youtuber) and they chatted with our students. It was an unequivocally historical event of epic proportions, especially when the reading swiftly passed with unopposed votes!
Great news! The House of Lords passed their 1st reading on 21st March 2022, and the 2nd reading is scheduled for 1st April 2022, where politicians will debate whether to pass the BSL Bill prior to Royal Assent. We at Tallis are optimistic that the House of Lords are in favour.
The day went smoothly, we were so grateful of the glorious weather and were met with a friendly and joyful atmosphere.
Channel 5 News broadcast the event.
Here are some comments from students:
-- Jane Newman, Deaf Support Centre
I was reminded why Tallis is a precious place this winter, by a group of students I met when I came in to give a guest lesson on the Benin bronzes.
It was 30 years since I'd been a Tallis student myself. I confess I wasn't the best behaved student in the school. But I did have a hell of a lot of fun.
I was invited back in to talk to year 8s about a film I made recently for Channel 4 News about whether the world famous looted artefacts should be returned to Nigeria.
Many of the Tallis students I met were inquisitive, bold, and irreverent. They certainly didn't just accept what they were told at face value. They asked questions. Challenging ones. And they had energy.
It made me reflect on my own time at Tallis, and in particular as a 6th former, in 1991. Tallis at that time had formed an ultimately short lived triumvirate with two other local schools, which was meant to allow them to offer a wider range of subjects, and make the most of scant resources.
One of the challenges was the educational culture between the schools and their teachers was vastly different, and the coalition was dissolved after a few years.
Tallis has always tried to do things differently - and it's very special and deeply rooted educational culture of dialogue, challenge and exploration showed up for me and my friends in our A level Geography lessons.
Spoiler alert - this story does have a very happy ending - but it started very badly.
One of our two Geography A level teachers was from Tallis - our much loved and respected Mr Shurwin. Mr Shurwin was pretty quiet, but he was funny and kind. He commanded our respect and attention largely because he was a really lovely bloke, and he treated his students as grown ups, who had every right to ask questions and challenge ideas. I remember him treating us like this even when we were in the lower school. He got the best out of us by letting us explore our imaginations, while gently guiding us to the knowledge he knew we needed to absorb for the boring stuff - like exams!
But things got off to a very bad start with our other A level teacher, Ms Holland, who was from one of the other schools. She evidently found us to be querulous and obstructive. The lessons were conducted at Tallis, and I suspect we were somewhat territorial and snooty. We thought she was impatient and disinterested. We argued incessantly - the class was not going well.
After a few weeks things blew up and we had a massive row. I think it may have even involved us locking her out of the classroom (sorry - but I promise this story does end well!)
When she eventually made it into the classroom she was understandably furious.
"What's wrong with you people?" she yelled at us. "Why do you keep on going off on tangents all the time and asking random questions?" she wanted to know.
"Well that's how we've always learned" we replied. "We just want to talk a bit more!"
Ms Holland was understandably exasperated - but nuff respek to her - she said "OK. we're gonna try it your way. Because my way clearly isn't working".
It was transformative. Ms Holland was brilliant - she was funny, engaging, and exciting. One of the best teachers I've ever had. She met our energy with her own - and her lessons were great.
Somehow - despite my head at 17 being thoroughly turned as a young man discovering the delights of London town - Mr Shurwin and Ms Holland helped me get an A in my Geography A level.
A very belated thanks to you both!
I ended up reading a Geography degree, at Sussex, where I had the immense privilege of being able to continue asking questions and challenging received wisdoms - sometimes for the hell of it, but always in pursuit of knowledge, however obscure.
And in the faces and questions of the year 8s I met during my guest lesson about the Benin bronzes, I saw, heard and felt some of that same energy that I experienced when I was a student at Tallis many many many years ago.
It was a pleasure to be back!
-- Keme Nzerem