Blogs by Sajid Gulzar

The Importance of Reading

As a child, I didn’t have many books. Well, I had one book that I bought for 60p when I was 7 or 8. I loved reading though and my weekly trips to Ward End Library were an absolute treat. It felt a magical place where I spent many an hour lost in books. It is where my lifelong love of fantasy began, I devoured anything with witches, wizards, dragons and heroic quests. Even now, I escape the hurly burly of life by losing myself in a fantasy epic (I’m currently half way through a six book, 600+ pages per book epic and loving every page!). I still remember sitting at the feet of my teacher in the first year of junior school (year 3 in new money) listening intently and hanging on to every word of The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe. Aside from the library, I got my reading fix from comics. I couldn’t really afford them when they came out each week but the very kind lady at the local newsagents kept aside the old ones that she sold to me for the few pennies I could muster. Whilst at Highfield, one year I managed to buy a pile of old editions of my favourite comics at a jumble sale, it’s one of my happiest childhood memories – what a haul!

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What is moral purpose and where does it come from?

I have pondered this question a lot over the years. When I talk to people about why I do what I do, I am often told that I am passionate. My passion, I think, stems from my mission in life, my moral purpose. I think, my moral purpose has its origins in a sense of injustice with the status quo and in no small part to my upbringing. My family history and my childhood are littered with stories of doing the right thing, even if it results in personal detriment and hardship. These stories, their messages, teachings are deeply ingrained in me. Three in particular stand out:

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The Risk and Reward of a Failing School

Highfield Junior and Infant School has always held a special place in my heart. It’s where my schooling started in September 1978 aged 4. The youngest of 5 children, second generation Pakistani immigrant, no English etc – a familiar enough story so far. The unusual thing about this one though is the bit where I return some thirty years after leaving to a school in special measures. It’s the strangest thing coming back to lead your own primary school.

For me it was a fairly straight forward decision to help my old school. A school that had been caught up in the ‘Trojan Horse’ (controversy? scandal? affair? thing?). A school that had never been graded ‘good’ by Ofsted & was regarded as one of the worst in the neighbourhood by the local community. It was a simple decision because the situation appealed directly to my moral purpose. The school was broken and failing nearly 900 children, many from deprived and challenging backgrounds.

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