An unrelenting three-year cycle of physical and verbal abuse has had a bitter-sweet effect for 13-year-old rapper Katie Higgins who has become an overnight internet music sensation.
After being held at knifepoint, had her face stomped on, been told to kill herself and that she was too ugly, Katie used her love of rapping as a coping mechanism and would hide in the toilets at Saint Mary’s Catholic School in Astley to practise her musical talent.
This rapping has seen her star shine after her mum Sammie uploaded one of her videos onto the internet which caught the attention of sports clothing company Umbro who want to design a logo and merchandise with her and Crazy Fish music studio which offers bespoke professional music tuition to children and adults of all abilities.
“She has been rapping since she was five. It always has been something she has been interested in,” said Sammie.
“She tends to rap about things that happen in her life and how it makes her feel.
“I posted one of her videos on a group called Absolutely online and it has already 15,000 likes and shares.
“People got in contact wanting to do studio time and give her the chance to record a CD.
“I want to show her that she is loved.”
One of the most shocking incidents came in a cookery class at the school when Katie was threatened with a knife.
Sammie said: “She was in cookery class one day when a kid held her at knifepoint and threatened to slice her neck open.
“The school failed to inform me of this and let her walk home alone.
“When I got in contact with the school they said they had to do further investigations.
“We have an idea of the group that is doing the bullying. She is a quiet girl who keeps herself to herself. They probably think they can keep getting away with it so continue doing it.”
Feeling the school has failed in their duty of care, she added: “I’ve lost count the many times I have been in contact with the school and every time they told me the issue will be sorted but it’s not.
“We are in the process of removing Katie from the school. It’s just a bit of a nightmare at the minute.”
Ofsted has highlighted issues with bullying at the school in the past, most notably in November 2016, although the latest inspection did find that improvements had been made.
The latest report from April this year – during which the school went from a rating of ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ – said: “The welfare of pupils is taken very seriously by all staff. This includes promoting strong mental health and resilience if experiencing difficulties. Pupils say there are many adults who they could and would turn to for guidance when they are experiencing anxieties or have a concern for others.
“Pupils say that bullying is much less of a problem than it once was. They say that when incidents are reported to staff, they are usually dealt with efficiently and effectively. Staff agree. They feel strongly that pupils are safe and well looked after.”
In a world where being Instagrammable takes precedence over talent and being different is frowned upon, Katie breaks that mould by sticking two proverbial fingers to her bullies by looking forward to her talent in music and not focussing in that rearview mirror.
Does Katie, who listens to Eminem and Tentacion, come from a long line of musical geniuses?
“No. This is all on her,” Sammie says.
And what does Katie make of her newfound fame?
“She’s overwhelmed – in tears.”
Andrew Dawson, headteacher of St Mary’s High School said the school take all allegations of bullying seriously.
He said: “Although we cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm that any instances that were brought to our attention were dealt with in line with school policy and with pupil wellbeing at its heart.
“We have contacted the family in order to find a suitable resolution.”
For more of Katie’s singing click here.