Hannah Beharry tells Will Adams’ Pupils – “Be the best you can be.”

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Medway Matters

Hannah Beharry’s life was in a downward spiral aged 17, a life of crime with no education to speak of and facing
a bleak future. But a youth worker saw the potential and persuaded Hannah to visit her local boxing gym. The rest is history.

In her twenties Hannah rose through the boxing ranks to become one of the leading female boxers in the UK, a British champion with only injury preventing her from going for gold in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Today, she is an ambassador for her sport, helping young people up and down the country who, for whatever reason,
have lost their way. Young people like the students at the highly regarded Will Adams Pupil Referral unit in Gillingham.

The unit, classed as a good school by Ofsted at its last inspection, was recently visited by Hannah as part of
the London 2012 legacy, Be the Best You Can Be’ education programme.

Headteacher, Karen Bennett, said: “Hannah had the most awful life growing up and her story captivated our students,
she was really someone they could relate to. They sat and listened. She was very, very inspirational.”

“Afterwards the conversations were: ‘I want to be like her’, ‘I want to change my life and not go down the road I could go down.’ They created posters about what they wanted to be, what they wanted to achieve.

“The three things that came up most were to have a family, a successful job, be happy. And that’s what we want for them at this school – to want more for themselves and to believe.”

The Will Adams PRU provides education for children permanently excluded from mainstream education as a result of persistent or difficult behavioral issues. It currently has 45 pupils, aged 14 to 16, on its roll.

Students are given a personal timetable that meets their specific needs and, as in mainstream education, are able to
take GCSEs and other vocational qualifications. They also receive support – from raising self esteem to key skills – that will help tackle whatever issues caused them to be referred in the first place.

Karen, said: “What we always say to the student and to their parents at the pre-admission meeting is that this is a
fresh start. You walk through the door and everything, all your baggage has gone.

“While we are a behaviour unit, we don’t accept the behaviours they come with. We have two years to turn that
around so students can actually leave here and hold down a job or a college place and be successful citizens.

“They come with no ambitions really, and that’s something we have to work on; to give them something to
aim for – to dream, believe and ultimately achieve. That’s our whole philosophy.

“I’m lucky to have a top team of teachers and a great senior management team but above all it’s the students desire to change that has made the school the success that it is – and in the future.”

 

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