The extraordinary ordinary

How getting good grades and getting on in life can be a Herculean feat for some young people

Fahmida seems like a typical 17-year-old: friendly, talkative, concerned about exams, unnerved by the word UCAS. She has an incredibly positive outlook on life. It’s not until you dig a little bit deeper and get under the surface, that you catch a glimpse of the extraordinary.

Fahmida is from Tower Hamlets, one of the most economically disadvantaged boroughs in London and in the UK. It has the second highest unemployment rate in London and nearly a third of young people live in families claiming tax credits.

Fahmida lives with her mum in Poplar, which lies in the inescapable shadow of Canary Wharf, that monolith of financial abundance. Every story of personal triumph from this area is one worth sharing and celebrating. Whether it is a student who spends weeks coming to school hungry and tired but is still seeing an improvement in their science grades, or a student with behavioural issues caused by their chaotic home environment finally taking tangible steps towards improving their performance.

Here, what many might view as ordinary is extraordinary.

Dami and Fahmida

Compassionate, relatable and accessible people have played a critical part in Fahmida’s education. Simple gestures from people like this can make a difference in a child’s life. It is thanks to people like this that Fahmida has been able to deal with her moments of anxiety and stress – and the very real challenges facing her family – and looks at her present and her future with optimism.

The importance of emotional stability for all children and students can never be understated. It is difficult to expect adults to develop personally or professionally if their basic emotional needs are not being met. So when their surroundings fail to provide them with the required emotional support, it makes little sense to expect children or students to transcend their situations.

Given the current educational climate and pressures borne by teachers – as a result of the proliferation of the A*-C culture – it is too big a task to ask teachers to carry out. There is so much opportunity for people other than teachers to offer their time and their support – and make a real difference in the lives of young people.

Hear more from Fahmida: