Bukayo Saka Really Did Go To Greenford High School?
PE teacher has to convince disbelieving students that he is a former pupil
Bukayo Saka’s former PE teacher has to show his new students proof the young England star attended their Ealing school.
Mark Harvey, 41, a PE teacher at Greenford High School, said many younger students don’t believe he started there.
Harvey often gets his phone out to show years seven and eight students that the Arsenal player attended their school, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service just before England’s historic victory against Germany in which the Arsenal star put in a great first half performance.
“For them they’re so detached from the fact that a Greenford High School student can actually go on and do something like that,” Harvey said.
“I’ve got to get it on my phone and go ‘no, no, no, this is when I taught him,’ and I’ve almost got to prove the fact that Bukayo was one of our students.
“They can’t relate to it, they just think it’s… to become a professional footballer and to do that is so displaced from anything with regards to what we talk about in school.
“It’s lovely for us to say, ‘oh no, no, no, this student did come here’.”
The school is certainly proud. A framed and signed England shirt welcomes those who arrive at the school’s reception.
The student body, almost 3,000 strong, are often shown Saka’s straight A* GCSE results to show that academic performance is as important as sporting prowess, Mr Harvey said.
The assistant head spoke with pride at the way Saka’s calm and respectful character shines through in interviews.
“In every interview that I see him do, he carries himself so well and talks so well, he always does it with a smile on his face,” he said.
“He’s always been like that, I promise you, when I taught him in year seven and he was 11 years old, he was the calming factor in the class.
“Of course they’re all hyper young kids, they get to PE and it’s their favourite lesson of the week, the majority of them. He was always calm, respectful, but then had a really nice relationship with everyone.”
Mr Harvey is also head of behaviour, so older students often ask him how well-behaved the midfielder was.
“He was never naughty. I hate using the word banter because the students use it to death, he knew how to have a joke with people,” he said. “But knew where the line was, and he always did it with an element of respect.”
Mr Harvey credits Saka’s parents for their son’s balanced personality and his success at balancing school work and football.
“I’ll talk about a lot about his mum and his dad because we had to work with them loads because obviously he had a lot of time out from us, working with Arsenal at the time, working with England at the time as well.
“And of course that requires a lot of communication that requires them to work with us to make sure that he’s doing his studies, which he did, amazingly well.”
It must have been tough for Saka and his family to be pulled in so many directions, Mr Harvey added.
“He was always quite headstrong, knowing what he was going and do.
“I’ll say the same thing about the family you know, they’ve given up endless amounts of weekends, travelling up and down the country in god knows what sort of weather.
“And they did that, they always gave up their time.”
Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter
July 1, 2021