My first day at Tallis was in September 2009. As a big-eyed 11-year old nerdy girl with ASD, I was transfixed by what my time at Tallis would bring me. Tallis, unlike other schools at the time, has a relaxed uniform code and we could even wear hoodies.
My time stood right in the middle of the development of the new school facilities. Ever the finicky girl, I was dismayed by the original buildings. They were dark, cold, and dingy. Now I look back feeling comforted by the memory of the old school, now demolished.
My first love was Italian. Though my first choice for language was Spanish, I was satisfied to be put in Italian class with Ms Crook. She could be formidable sometimes; I vividly recall being reprimanded in Italian for remarking "This is very similar to Spanish". That it is, for they are both romance languages. For five years I persevered with Italian and was rewarded with an A* in the language for my GCSEs. Bravissima.
By the end of my first year, I discovered a new interest: playing piano. It was with Mr McCarrick in a freezing hut (anyone else remember those?) that I began my journey as a musician and would become one of the building blocks to later academic interests. I now have a BA in Music from Leeds as of 2019. Though I no longer have lessons with Mr McCarrick, I am still under the tutelage of Alison who I have had the great pleasure of working with for nearly 10 years.
To say that my time at Tallis ran smoothly would be dishonest on my part; I unfortunately suffered from bullying that devastated my self-confidence, and experienced personal tragedies such as the death of my father in 2012. I have mostly healed from those troubles and have done well to work on my self-esteem. For so long I did not know my own strength.
I stayed on at sixth form and made friends for life. We have similar interests (music, niche hobbies like mudlarking, art) and we go to the pub every now and then. I'm eternally grateful for them all: Xavier, Laurel, and Ella, I thank you dearly. I love you.
To the following teachers, Mr Bradshaw, Mr Talbot, Ms McGowan, Ms Crook, Mr McCarrick and many others: thank you all for your support, your enthusiasm, and your faith in my abilities. And to Jay Abrahams and Jane Mack, my learning support assistants who got me through the best and worst of times.
-- Emily James
In July 1996 Nelson Mandela was visiting London and was due to speak to crowds outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square. I had been teaching at Tallis since 1984, and my SRE students knew how much Mandela’s visit meant to all of us, how momentous an occasion this was. They begged to go and hear him - and this was literally the day before!
We would need immediate permission from the Headteacher, Colin Yardley.
If this had been any other school, it would have been a ‘no’ from the Head, due to the logistics of such a last minute arrangement. As we reminisce, I so clearly remember the Tallis way, with Colin at the helm - a ‘can do’ and ‘let’s make it happen’ approach to events. The massive enthusiasm of the students, who helped me to ask Colin, and my assurance that I would obtain all the parental permissions overnight, and bring these to him personally, was all we needed.
We went, and wow!! - it was the highlight of my career and a pinnacle of happiness for the whole group.
On their return to school, all the students rushed to find and thank Colin and regale him with the details of Mandela’s speech and of the euphoric atmosphere in Trafalgar Square.
-- Mandy O'Donnell (Hitchcock)