Belonging PART 1


This weekend my parents have come up to visit, to see my new home, to see my new school. I have been dipping in & out between pub lunches, cycling along river paths & gardening. 

As I have scan read each post & tried to leave a comment for each writer to acknowledge their contribution, to shine a light on their story, lots started going through my mind.  

Tonight we watched "I, Daniel Blake", a heart breaking film about our society, our system, & how it fails people. 

Whilst my parents watch The Island, I reflect on the blogs & what I have learned, having just chatted to Simon & @malcpd‍ via Twitter about the frame of 'belonging' verse 'inclusion'.  

Each of these  jig saw pieces bring me to this post.


I am a straight, single, white, 38 year old woman, born in Reading, brought up in Devon. We have a small family as my Mum was born in Canada, but we identify as British as Mum's parents had emigrated, and when her Dad died very young, the children were sent back to the UK. I have always been strong-willed, (apparently children who suck their thumbs are more self-sufficient as they self-sooth and don't need an adult to sleep) and had a strong sense of self.     

My parents sent me to a private school for my secondary education, against my will, and I think this is where my socialist values stem from. I was at a school where I didn't fit in. I was bright enough to be there, but my value set and my upbringing were different to those I was at school with. 

I am still judged by friends and peers when I share my schooling; I am looked at differently. Whilst I am sharing, I also worked in a Grammar School for a year, I was 23, with a car and rent to pay, and debt to clear, I lived in Kent and needed a job. It wasn't a political decision, it was a practical decision.    

I don't have faith but I have a strong moral and ethical code. I see things in a very black and white way, when it comes to right and wrong. My sister & I have discussed a lot how different it must be to have faith to turn to when the going gets tough. 

When Marianne did her Free Range Humans TEDxNorwich talk recently, it was a light bulb moment as I have always sat in that liminal space, the grey bits between the black/ white. I am quite comfortable there. I am very comfortable in my own skin, in my own company. I have a lot of friends, in different groups; I belong in each space, but I am the same person with my family, as I am at work, as I am with my friends. I have criticised friends who are chameleons & metamorphose when they get a new partner/new friend/new job. 

Author Profile

Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson

Executive Headteacher | DfE Coach | #WomenEd Co-Founder | SLE | NPQML/SL facilitator | NPQH | Governor | Leadership Matters Ambassador

238 stories


Anshi Singh Anshi Singh @teachanshi 6 months ago
" I belong in each space..." - I love the way you accept everyone in your circle the way they are and inspire them to be their best version!!
Martha Da Costa-Sherwood Martha Da Costa-Sherwood @dacosmeconsult 6 months ago
Thanks for sharing Hannah, it feel good to know there are people like you around who are able to put themselves out and stand up for what right
Pran  Patel Pran Patel @mrpatel 6 months ago
Another great honest journey! Thank you Hannah - you, as always, have been amazing.
Parm  Plummer Parm Plummer @parmplum 6 months ago
I love this. Hannah, so refreshing and truthful. Our values are defined by our paths, and until we live through something, we cannot necessarily know that it's not right for us. It's crazy to judge people for the choices that we make. I've worked in international, state, mixed, single sex, grammar and now independent schools. I am wiser for it. If we lived life in a black and white way, we would miss so much. I'm happy to inhabit the 'grey bits' too.
Amjad Ali Amjad Ali @astsupportaali 6 months ago
Always remember to conform to every stereotype whilst subverting them massively too. :)
Susan Baumgartner Susan Baumgartner @sbaumgartner94 6 months ago
I am repeatedly amazed at how connected I feel to you! You have such a gift. Thank you for this fantastic sketch.
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