Discover More … A Chat with Former Student Leila Willingham

Oct 19, 2020

Can you tell us a little about your time at St Edward’s?

I was at St Edward’s right the way through from Year 8 – Year 13 after choosing to stay at the school to do my A-Levels. I felt so at home at St Edward’s that leaving for two years just didn’t make sense. I found my place in the music department and most of the extracurricular activities I did was within that department, I think it’s important for everyone to find something, outside of the usual school day, that they enjoy. It really made my school experience.


Do you remember your first year at St Edward’s? How did you feel?

I remember feeling so small among all the older, bigger pupils! I never felt intimidated by this though and enjoyed the sense of community that the school had. I also really enjoyed moving between classrooms, that was a nice change from the primary/middle school set up. I instantly felt more independent and freedom, but also recognised that with that came responsibility.

I went on a music tour to Belgium at the end of my first year at St Edwards and I think that really solidified me feeling at home there.


Reflecting on your time at St Edward’s School, what were your favourite subjects?

Music for sure! As well as Drama. I liked the practical subjects but, although it wasn’t my strongest, upon reflection, I didn’t hate math’s. I think I enjoyed progressing and improving, with the help of my teachers. I also really enjoyed English and RE, particularly at GSCE where it gave us the opportunity to debate big subjects.


How did the school and the teachers help you grow and develop over the years?

All my teachers were really dedicated and were always happy to help. Most of them were good fun too. I remember science lessons with Mr Keane being particularly fun! I think the teachers at St Edwards strike a good balance between being encouraging and kind, while giving students some tough love when needed to propel progression.


You’ve gone on to do incredibly well in PR. How is it going?

I am really pleased with my career choice. I always thought it was for me and now having put that to the test over the past 3 years, I am glad I headed down this route! Learning doesn’t stop at school though, I am learning every day in my job and am pleased to feel as if I am progressing. I am also just starting a PR Diploma, taking my skills to the next level.

One of my favourite parts of the job is developing relationships with my clients and understanding them, so that I can communicate on their behalf super effectively. It’s also great to see a strategy put into place and achieve results. I am taking more responsibility on the business side of things too and frequently use what I learnt in my business studies GCSE and A-Level at St Edward’s with Mr Kilpatrick! It’s really nice to look back and realise just how valuable those classes and courses were.


What advice would you give to a year 6 student who is due to start St Edward’s school?

My number one piece of advice would be to write down all the funny moments that happen at school with your friends. I remember laughing uncontrollably at school with my friends and am disappointed I can’t remember why for most of those memories.

Those moments are worth treasuring, and the moments that don’t feel so great are not worth stressing about. Those years come and go so quickly so give it your all; laugh hard, study well, listen in class and ask for help when you need it, make the most of what the school can offer! You want to look back at these secondary school years with good memories!

Oh and a top tip for the canteen is to buy yourself a sandwich at break time when the queue is usually shorter!