The Education Act 1981 was the first major steps to developing the amazingly inclusive schools we see today. None more so than the brilliant schools in Newham.
By creating environments where everyone can succeed, we open up opportunities for everyone to follow their dreams. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Ellen Goodey, to hear how being part of mainstream education in Newham helped shape her story.
Ellen was part of the first generation to be able to attend any school of their choice. Ellen attended St Stephens Nursery and Primary, Plashet Secondary School and NewVic.
At that time, Newham schools were leading the way for inclusion with some of Ellen’s friends leaving other countries, such as Holland, specifically to come to Newham schools.
Throughout our conversation, Ellen talks fondly of her time at school, attending the same school as her brother and her friendly and kind nature ensured she quickly made friends for life. Ellen met Shannel at primary school at the age of nine and was very proud to have been her maid of honour when Shannel got married in 2015.
Ellen recalls always enjoying school getting involved in everything and always felt the schools she attended were friendly, open and proud to have Ellen as a student.
From a very young age Ellen had a passion for drama and acting. One of her fondest memories of school was being a part of the Oliver Twist production; this was, however, just the start of the acting bug for Ellen.
Ellen met her now husband, Allan, at the Blue Sky Actors organisation, just one of the many extracurricular groups that Ellen belongs to. Ellen has a huge amount of acting experience, including performing in a play called My Move, which ran for three months; she co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed The Princess of the Graveyard Palace with her father and even performed it at our very own Stratford Circus. Ellen performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall with her dance company, Corali, and has also taken to the little screen and appeared in a number of television programmes.
It’s not just the arts that inspire Ellen, it’s also the chance to give back to the community which has helped and supported her. Ellen worked at Tunmarsh School, one of Newham’s PRU’s, supporting children with special needs; she has worked at MENCAP, the national learning disability organisation, for 10 years, supporting people to help them build a happy life. Ellen became the face of a MENCAP advertising campaign in 2019.
Throughout my conversation with Ellen three things really stood out, Ellen’s love and gratitude for her family’s support, her amazing friends (and social life) and her fond memories of her time at school. Ellen provided me with a wonderful presentation about her life, reflecting on many things including the Olympic torch passing right under her flat. On the subject of “How Did I Get Here” Ellen credits being included in mainstream school and colleges, her amazing support network, and her loving family as part of the reason she has made it to where she is today. I suspect she was always destined for stardom the support just helped push her there a little quicker.
My conversation with Ellen made me proud to be even a small part of the difference schools make on a daily basis, whether a teacher, a governor, a support service, an admin officer or a teaching assistant, everyone plays their part in ensuring the next generation can go on to bigger and better things than the last regardless of their circumstances.
If it were not for the amazing levels of inclusion within our schools perhaps Newham would have one less superstar to count among its alumni.
I’ll leave you with my final thought, life is short, if you can live it with even half the enthusiasm and passion of Ellen then you will have a wonderful life.
By Stewart Kiddell
Head of Business Development