Tuesday, 31 January 2012

This blog



At the heart of this blog will be the memories of people who were part of the Secondary Modern School experience: pupils, teachers, parents, school-workers and any politicians and local authority officials responsible for the Sec Mods.

The blog is being run by Emma-Louise Williams and Michael Rosen.

The aim is to collect and collate a history that has never been written.

People wishing to contribute can of course write what they want but for your convenience, we offer some questions you may like to consider.:

1. What was the last year at primary school like - in particular studying for the 11-plus exam?

2. How did you hear that you had not passed the 11-plus? What did that feel like? How were you treated?

3. What were your first impressions of  your secondary school?

4. What stories do you tell about your time at the school?

5. What expectations do you think the school had of  you? How was that made clear to you?

6. What qualifications did you leave with?

7. Did you enjoy your time at secondary school?


Please note: in order to protect all concerned, we will disguise the name of your school and please use a pseudonym as your name.

16 comments:

  1. hi would it be possible to give a verbal account ?

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    1. Can you email me to discuss? emmalouisew@hotmail.com

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  2. 3. What were your first impressions of your secondary school?

    Brutal. I arrived two weeks late at a Scottish shcool with a Canadian accent and was bullied by other students, a French teacher (because I spoke Quebecois and she thought I was too big for my boots) and the music teacher who hit me three times on each hand with a leather belt split into three at the ends because I hadn't inked over my pencilled music notes. I didn't know I had to. I was late for school and missed the first two lessons.

    4. What stories do you tell about your time at the school?

    Mostly I talk about my history teacher educating me about Nazism, fascim and racism.

    I also generalise from my experience: corporal punishment does not encourage children to learn. Support, encouragement and concrete criticism does.

    5. What expectations do you think the school had of you? How was that made clear to you?

    My English teacher had high expectations of me and encouraged me to write.She was an inspiration and a great refuge from the flogging teachers (Music, Latin and Maths).

    My history teacher was wonderful and a passionate anti-fascist. He taught me so much and was a wonderful friend. Hughie Wilson RIP.

    6. What qualifications did you leave with?
    Scottish Highers in English, French, German, Latin, Maths, History

    7. Did you enjoy your time at secondary school?
    Overall yes, although the early years were challendging. I owe so much to the good teachers I had. They inspired me.

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    1. Thanks very much for this. Can you tell us what kind of school this was? With the curriculum and qualifications you describe it doesn't sound like a 'Secondary Modern' school ie the school people went to if they failed their 11-plus.

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  3. 1. What was the last year at primary school like - in particular studying for the 11-plus exam?

    I don't remember "studying" for the 11-plus (I thought it was supposed to be a basic IQ test not a knowledge test. I remember sitting next to a broken window on a cold February morning trying to make sense of the questions and trying to decide which of several possible answers was the "right" one and then trying to get my "frozen" fingers to write neatly. Later I caught food poisoning (dysentry they called it) and being off school for 3 months and then not being allowed back for the last 6 weeks before summer holidays in case I caught something again.

    2. How did you hear that you had not passed the 11-plus? What did that feel like? How were you treated?

    I suppose my Mother got a letter - she was quite upset but it didn't really bother me. My Mother tried to coach me on these really weird IQ tests that had no "right" answer to them (to my way of thinking) - my Brother says she used to say "poor Mark, he's not very bright but he's good with his hands". My Father (who was a painter, decorator, general builder) took me "under his wing" and taught me basic carpentry.

    3. What were your first impressions of  your secondary school?

    Firstly it was wonderfully close to home, (just down the end of the road from where I lived). Secondly all the "big boys" seemed to be dressed as teddy boys (which I thought was really "cool" (except cool wasn't used in those days) and I wanted to be able to dress like them). Being born in 1946 I was in the 'bulge' year and there were over twice as many of us as in intake-years before or after. Therefore we spent many lessons walking to nearby church halls etc. because there just wasn't enough room in the school buildings.

    4. What stories do you tell about your time at the school?

    There was a boy who could have been thought of as a bit of a bully but was actually more of a fixer and just didn't tolerate fools. If there had been such a thing as an NUS rep he'd have been it. When we finally felt we'd had enough of the bullying antics of one particular teacher it was "Mr. Fixit" who organised us into open rebellion, one break-time. We were all called into the school hall and given a good telling off but the teacher was "persuaded" to resign.

    The same boy was also the "top man" in a game of "human pyramid" that started on the playing fields at lunch-break. This went on for several days until one assembly we were asked to stop for safety reasons (the head said how much he admired what we were doing but feared for our safety).

    5. What expectations do you think the school had of you? How was that made clear to you?

    We were all expected to end up working in the local factory and lessons were geared to making sure we able to write coherent letters of application, work out our wages to make sure we weren't being diddled. Fill out tax forms etc. One English teacher was particularly nice and I could relax in her class. Unfortunately that meant I didn't try very hard and regularly failed the end-of-term assessment. So I was demoted to Mr. Nasty's class where I tried my hardest to get-the-hell-out and got put back up again, and relaxed (and so the cycle went on).

    6. What qualifications did you leave with?

    After a second attempt I managed to scrape 5 whole GCEs

    7. Did you enjoy your time at secondary school?

    Actually I did and I think if I had passed the 11 plus I'd have been less happy at a Grammar School, though a Tech might have been OK.

    Please note: in order to protect all concerned, we will disguise the name of your school and please use a pseudonym as your name.

    My school was always known as "Uncle Sid's Academy (USA)" - not the real name - and I was known as "Boney" or "Prof".

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  4. We didn't really study for the 11-plus exam because my teacher - who was also the headmaster had already decided that my family 'should not expect too much of me' (school report). This coincided with his discovery that we lived in a council house, apparently. Later I found that there were very few kids from our estate at the grammar school.
    I discovered that I hadn't passed when other kids were interviewed - especially two of my best friends. I wanted to be allowed to talk my way in. My older sister had already gone to sec mod, so I presumed that I would too. I didn't allow myself to be too frustrated - there was no point. When I told my sister that at least the uniform was pretty, she told me to shut up.

    My first impressions of my new school were that it was repressive and we were expected to become 'the mothers of the future'. You didn't answer back or question anything. Work was graded on neatness. We were shown how to wash our hair brushes and at least one whole morning per week was spent on sewing or domestic science. It was a girl-only school. We were expected to leave and take a job in a factory. The real high-flyers became secretaries... and most girls dreamed of being air stewardesses. I dreamed of being an artist.

    We never studied novels or poetry. All our 'English' work was work-sheets - spellings, etc. I didn't know who Shakespeare was, or Chaucer. There was no science - only Human Biology. (although we did have some physics lesson, for half a term and I loved it. We split rainbows.)

    They told my parents after the first year that I was a juvenile delinquent. My parents hadn't mentioned that my Dad was a disabled war pensioner and nobody asked. His disability was of the private kind, and he was still able to work, in between long spells in hospital. I thought everyone's dad was as ill as mine. In my spare time I lived in the local library and read everything I could lay my hands on, including the first chapters of Das Kapital, which seemed to make a lot of sense. I left with a GCE in English and one in Art and a load of useless CSEs that made me feel I was an idiot.

    They then changed the system and I was able to attend the local grammar school, where I was treated with respect for the first time. My previous headteacher had refused to recommend me for this, I learned later. I have to say that my time at secondary modern had been the most boring and alienating time of my life. I can remember weeping with boredom.

    In the new sixth form at the grammar school, a tutur suggested that I should take 'S' levels and try for university. I didn't realise the significance at the time, or I would have done it. I just thought they were being nice.

    Eventually many years later, I took a degree, as a widow with two young children. I followed it with an MA, PGCE and taught for 18 years. Many of the attitudes of my old sec mod are still around to this day. I'm now doing an OU degree just for the hell of it and because I really love learning. I'm so very grateful for all the incredible chances I've had to study as a mature student. A pity that's all going to be lost now.

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  5. I dont even remember doing the 11 plus..did I miss it?I dont suppose it wpuld have mattered as my dad and the priest had already decided I was going to the secondary modern the priest was involved in. I went to a Catholic secondary modern for girls from 1967 to 1972. I remember being an incredibly bright kid who was desperate to learn -the school soon put a stop to that -I was bullied and beaten up for being too clever and stopped being clever.The nuns were more interested in the lenght of our skirts than how well we were doing academically. There was corporal punisihment and we lived in mortal terror of being caned for the smallest misdemeanor by the vicious headmistress. I still remember one of the girls in my class sobbing after being caned on both hands for answering one of the nuns back-the last thing they wanted was for you to have a mind of your own. We spent our time doing needlework classes, domestic science classes (which basically meant how to make scrambled eggs and iron a shirt) office skills (typing) and R.E. On monday mornings we were taken to some playing fields and made to do sports by the sadistic PE teacher and every Thursday morning we had to go to mass. The lay teachers held us-second generation Irish working class- in complete contempt-the history teacher used to spend her lessons teling us how to wash, to change our shoes and keep our hair short so that we did not give her fleas.
    When we were 16 we were visite by a careers Officer who gave us 2 options hairdressing or bank clerk (obvioulsy those who went for the 2nd option are now out of work). The only exams we were offered were CSE's-I could have walked them but failed them all on purpose and spent the last year walking the streets rather than being at school. I hated the school and all the teachers except one -I was bored and unhappy and, as I had decided at 14 to rejct the church and all it stood for I wanted to scream everytime they mentiond God or we had to sit through one of the interminable assemblies..which were even longer when the priest paid us a vist and all the nuns fluttered around him.
    I left at 16 with just 1 CSE -I never lost my love of learning but being a single parent on a council estate during the Thatcher years made life very difficult but I did my A levels as evening classes and when my daughter was 12 did a degree them a masters and now in my 50s I am doing a PhD.
    That school was a terrible place and it was only later I realised that a whole generation of working class kids were being written off-we were being prepared for manual work, for being wives and mothers and good catholics.

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  6. The 11+ split our family - my sister and brother, both as bright but in different ways to me, went to Secondary Moderns and I went to Grammar School and was regarded as a snob by family and neighbours. So I wore strict uniform and learnt Latin and they did Needlework and Carpentry - how I envied them and still remember Grammar School being rather cold and academic (except of course for the few inspiring teachers that exhibited opposite qualities). The damage was done to both parties - it's a great crime to inflict the young with feelings of inferiority but just as bad to inflict them with feelings of superiority. Takes years to get back some equilibrium.

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  7. I moved to a junior school in the south of England in 1964 from Scotland and joined the last to terms. I had already been to 4 different schools before so was used to being the new girl. Nothing prepared me for what was to come. I was given a number 48 which was the number of girls in the class. I couldn't understand their accent and they couldn't understand mine. I hate it. I tried a bit of school refusing but after a few days of being taken to the school in tears by my father I realised it was futile.
    Everyone else had done their 11 plus and knew which school they were going to be going to. One day I was taken into the heads office and sat down in front of her to do the test that I was told would decide if I were to go to the grammar school or not she watched everything I wrote for what seemed like hours. Some weeks later I was told I had failed. I didn't tell anyone at school as the shame was too much.
    Day 1 at the secondary modern was another shock. Not only had I failed but I had failed so badly I was put into the 3rd out of 4 classes. The work seemed trivial and undemanding. A month or so later I was unexpectedly moved to the top class. I was told if I did well enough and came top in the end of year exams I might be moved to the grammar school. I worked hard and got really good marks in all my tests, except for needlework where I was second from bottom and art where I came bottom of the class. I came top in maths science French etc.
    There was nothing to be done I couldn't be moved. I was told if I was capable I would be able to do GCSEs rather than CSEs.
    I did well over the years in my exams. The French teacher allowed me to join the higher class sometimes and I took French gcse in. My 4th year.
    One day in the French class we had to write down our plans for the future and it was my turn to read them ou to the class. I said I wanted to go to university. That was a big mistake, the French teacher told me and the class that not one of us was bright enough to do that. So I kept quiet about what I might want to do.
    I was pleased to be able to do maths, chemistry English biology at gcse level. The biology was crazy...I had followed the cse lessons only to find a week before the o level exam that the curriculum was for human biology and the level I had been entered for was biology....I had done no plant biology at all! And failed, similar for physics....but I came away with cse grade 1's and 5 o levels
    I made no friends at the secondary modern and kept myself to myself. Others taunted me for being a swat, I didn't try very hard but remained an outsider.
    I went on to the 6th from college, which was at the grammar school. Without the basic olevels it was always going to be hard, but I ended up after 3 years there with some decent A levels...re sitting in the 3rd year in zoology ( I never did plant biology) maths and physical science.
    I applied to study medicine and after my 3rd attempt failed to get a place at clearing I was offered various places to study nursing at a polytechnic, genetics at university etc and then medicine in London!
    Now I am coming towards retirement as a GP in north east England.I qualified in 1979 without any difficulty and have enjoyed a continuous career ever since.
    The schooling is something I regret, I never had an academic school background which I would have loved. Despite my failure in needlework and art those are both hobbies I now have and have done some creative work in both.
    Perhaps the constant failure made me more determined to succeed. My experience of school in a non caring non academic surrounding has helped in my understanding of patients in working class areas, but I feel I missed out on a lot.
    There is lots more to say, but writing this has in some ways helped.

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  8. I also don't remember taking the 11+ although I may have done. My parents went through a period of legal seperation and so we moved between their home towns a number of times. One town had already gone over to being fully comprehensive and the other still had the secondary/grammar school divide.I started my secondary school life in a secondary modern, moved to a comprehensive school for a couple of years and then completed my last year at the secondary school.
    I remember being excited about moving up from junior school to the big school. My friends and I were mostly concerned about showing off our gymnastic skills and wondering whether our new PE teachers would be impressed.The school was within walking distance. I do remember a girl near to us going to grammar school and having a nice uniform.At the time I didn't question why she was going to the grammar and I was not.Also, there was the safety of going where all your friends were.I vaguely remember feeling that the grammar school was for better off people and anyway my parents wouldn't have been able to afford the uniform or bus fares. However, I don't know why I remember feeling this as the secondary had a uniform too, of sorts.Grey skirt, blue jumper or cardigan but not a blazer.The secondary wasn't co-ed as there was a boys school close by.
    I don't remember that I enjoyed my time there but I wasn't especially miserable either.I have very little recollection of lessons except reading Lorna Doone in English class and the domestic science department having a mocked up dining/living room where pupils learned to make and serve meals and be proper little domestic goddesses.Getting the chance to do that was supposed to be a privilege.In my last year at school we had to choose whether we wanted to go in the class that lead us onto a nursing career or a class for those interested in office/secretarial work. The two other streams were for the least able pupils.I neither wanted to be a nurse (we had been shown around the local hospital to see tape worms in jars etc)or work in an office.I suppose I must have plumped for the office option as I remember sitting at a desk with a typewriter.I left school in 1967 at the tender age of 15years and 3months without any qualifications and got a job as an office junior.As a young mother in my early twenties I studied with the Open University. Thank God for Jenny Lee!

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  9. In my final year at primary I got to sit a lot of practise papers. My parents were called into the school because although I was top of the class I was under performing in the tests. I was answering the questions too slowly. I felt I had to answer each question before I moved on, despite being told I had 30 seconds per Q. When I "failed" the 11th plus I felt sad. When the head showed me my result on a print out and told me that had I been a boy I would have gone I felt sadder. He said he could intervene but felt I would do better being at the top of a set rather than the bottom. In a way he was right but to this day I still feel inferior.Looking at a Dyslexia report the other day I think I probably have some form of it. When it came to transition from state primary to state secondary with my own children - at the last minute I sent them to a private school. Their self-confidence increased as did their aspirations and their results. I didn't want them to slip through the net the way I did

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  10. I recall going to at least six primary schools!
    It is now so long ago and today of little consequence and I try to never look back.
    1. What was the last year at primary school like - in particular studying for the 11-plus exam?
    I cannot recall studying for the 11-plus; it just happened! I did not like the teacher: she had her favorites - I was not one of them. Unfortunately during that final year I was implicated in two incidents, neither of which were my doing: just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    2. How did you hear that you had not passed the 11-plus? What did that feel like? How were you treated?
    Awful. A panic set in which left me feeling miserable - a failure; I could not understand the demarcation. I knew at that moment I was not going to a school with my friends - it was depressing.

    3. What were your first impressions of your secondary school?
    To make amends I was sent to a distant private school where ironically all but one of our class had failed the 11 plus. I remained isolated and subsequently left there to go to a secondary modern school, a lot closer to home.

    4. What stories do you tell about your time at the school?
    The new school was huge and a constant struggle, yet, over time I developed new friends and with some interest from some teachers, I gained confidence.

    5. What expectations do you think the school had of you? How was that made clear to you? We were fortunate to have two GCE streams that offered both the GCE & CSE.I became a prefect and captained the school cricket team as well as enjoying my time in the school orchestra. It was a balanced curriculum yet was not altogether aspirational. I confess like many of us, a university was an unknown and besides unreachable.

    6. What qualifications did you leave with? I left with five mixed subjects; failed three and took off with a prize. In retrospect I should have taken subjects that I was good at.

    7. Did you enjoy your time at secondary school? I wanted to stay another year and pass the three I failed as well as add two more. Truthfully I needed another year of maturity.

    I started over again when I left UK. Today I have a Masters; Post Grad; Post Grad Cert; Two Diplomas (equiv to 2 HND; Cert (HNC). I am a Member of many Institutes and have what many would consider a successful career and life. I made certain our daughters never went through my school experiences and sent them to a private school; they each have a Masters.
    In fifty years I have not been in contact with those 'friends' who went on to the Grammar. In many respects there was only one way for us secondary moderns' could go and that was up - if that was a choice. As for the Grammar school kids, much would have been expected from them and that too would have brought many pressures. Hopefully, they made something of their lives too.

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  11. 1. What was the last year at primary school like - in particular studying for the 11-plus exam?

    I can’t remember studying for the 11+ specifically, although we might have done one practice test, I’m not sure. What I remember is an impression that if you were not in class 1 out of 4 you were unlikely to pass it. I was in class 2. I took the exam but did not pass.

    2. How did you hear that you had not passed the 11-plus? What did that feel like? How were you treated?

    I can’t remember, it was all that was expected.

    3. What were your first impressions of your secondary school?

    Can’t remember my first impressions.

    4. What stories do you tell about your time at the school?

    I remember always feeling we were just being baby-sat, rather than there to learn anything. I could never understand what games were about, I don't think it was ever explained to us, we were just turfed out at games time and expected to know, which was awkward. Also the supposed swimming lessons: they encouraged those who could swim already and left the rest of us in the shallow end to fend for ourselves. Similar thing with the brass band: the pushy parents got their kids in the brass band, presumably because it looked good on the cv (that's kind of my mother talking!).

    5. What expectations do you think the school had of you? How was that made clear to you?

    I remember being told by the deputy head, who was teaching us some or other class at the time, that it would be silly to expect to become and architect or anything like that! I think we were basically just expected not to cause any trouble.

    6. What qualifications did you leave with?

    Seven CSEs, grades 1-7 (2 in maths, which I considered my worst subject), and one ‘O’ Level in Franch, which I had had to stay behind for extra classes in order to take, with only a handful of other pupils.

    7. Did you enjoy your time at secondary school?

    No, not particularly. It just seemed we were there for lack of something else to do with us.

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  12. I adored my Primary School, the female headteacher, was a Cambridge MA, who had been Steiner trained. My mother was better educated and more middle class than my father, who was very working class but hugely intelligent. I had a thirst for knowledge from as early as I can remember and my mother taught me to read and write at the age of 3 and the head allowed me to start at age 4. I enjoyed studying for the 11 plus, I loved the challenge of it all. My teacher was keen for me to go to the Grammer School (the High School for Girls) and told my parents that I had the ability to pass.


    I passed all the written exams but had to go for an interview at the Grammer School, as there weren’t enough places that year. The interview was appalling for a child of that age. I stood alone before the board of governors and the headmistress. I couldn’t understand why they were asking me the questions they were – what newspaper did my parents read? What did my father do? Did my mother work? Did we own our house or was it a council house or rented? Where did we go for our holidays? What did we call our midday meal? They asked me very little about myself; what do I want to do when I grow up? I wanted to go to university and teach and do research, but I didn’t feel they believed me. When the letter came saying I hadn’t got in, my parents accepted it, although my mother was very cross and blamed herself for “marrying down”. My headteacher wanted to take it up with the local authority as she was appalled, but my parents said to let it drop.

    My first day at the school was horrendous, I had never met such rough kids before was totally confused. The teachers seemed to be hostile and unfriendly and not like being there.

    I very rarely speak of my secondary school days to anyone. I was bullied from that first day until the day I left. I was beaten up, burnt with cigarettes, sexually assaulted by other girls and ostracised. I told my mother after a year about the bullying, I though she would get me moved. In fact she gave me a slap and told me never to mention it again or to anyone else. I think she just couldn’t handle the guilt or something. I never trusted her again to help me in life and we drifted apart in closeness from that day onwards. At age 14 I tried to commit suicide several times.

    The school had absolutely no expectations for any of us. Teachers endlessly told us we were “rubbish” and “the dregs” and that we were destined for the jam factory (which employed large numbers locally) or fruit picking. Most kids mucked about in class and barely any teaching went on. We had to take the pointless CSE exams. Most kids left after those; they didn’t offer anything else beyond a few O’ levels if a teacher fancied teaching them.

    I did O’ levels – English Lit and Language, History, Art and Needlework. The local authority allowed me to transfer to A level college after that, but really I was restricted in which ones I could take because of the O levels I had. I was very depressed at that college and found it increasingly hard to trust people and make friends. It makes me weep when I think what a friendly, out going child I’d been at Primary School. I got a place at University, but my parents wouldn’t let me go. They thought I would be rejected at university due to my social class. I was allowed to go to teacher training college instead, as this would at least give me a proper job at the end. I had a breakdown at college and the college doctor refused to sign me off as medically stable in order to teach. I worked for years in low paid jobs, totally lacking in confidence. After marriage, I did a degree through the Open University, then three postgraduate qualifications at another University. Eventually I taught on a degree course for over a decade; I am now teach workshops as well as mentoring students who have mental health issues. I have achieved a lot in life through hard work and determination. I still feel angry about things that never should have happened. What about all the other kids out there that never got a chance.

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  13. I passed my 11+ (1947) but failed the oral examination because I said I wanted to be a 'lady detective', so instead of going to Hastings High School I went to Hastings Secondary Modern School for Girls. There, I was with a few others allowed to study for 0-levels, but mysteriously this 'privilege' was withdrawn from us and we left at 17. I can find no archival records for this school, nor Ministry of Education papers of explanation. Later, while employed, I took A-level papers and passed - I had to prove my capability, if only to myself. Despite the education authority and a careers adviser who tried to curb my ambition, I became a reporter on a local paper, then a journalist/editor in London, and finally a sub-editor on Woman. After marriage, children and living abroad, I joined the civil service (as a writer/editor) and later a press officer up to retirement. My husband assures me that my career has been better than many graduates, but I still resent what I perceive as injustice.

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  14. Reading the article today has brought tears to my eyes. I always KNEW there was something wrong with the 11 plus, and now I see there was a lot wrong. I think I must have taken it in 1964 - possibly the worst year to take it. The year before, I remember many delighted families celebrating the fact that their children passed....I can't actually remember anyone failing. A big number of kids from our local council estate got through, including one of my cousins. They went to the local Grammar schools - one for boys, one for girls.

    When my time came, it was very different. My parents were keen for me to pass, of course, and I think I was promised a bike, as many of us were. We reasoned that if my cousin could do it, I should be able to pass easily. My cousin was not brighter than I was, and less inclined to study.

    In the last year at Primary school, we had a male teacher. His son was in our class. This teacher actually told my mother that I would not do well, because I didn't eat my potatoes. This seems unthinkable now, but my mother was still angry about this comment even years later.

    Anyway, following the huge number of passes the year before, my year had very few. The teacher's son passed, of course, but I did not.

    I was sent to a brand new Secondary Modern - I think it had opened the year before. It was wonderful. It had big, well-equipped science labs, domestic science rooms, art rooms, a gym and a theatre. I remember feeling very excited about all the things I could do, but rather daunted about the size of the place. I still sometimes have nightmares where I am lost in one of the corridors and late for my lesson!

    Because so many failed 11 plus that year, the school created a new class, which was called 'alpha', and was above the usual 'A' class. It was a full class, and I was allocated to it. This 'alpha' stream followed right through until I left, aged 16, with 8 CSE passes. Here, I must give credit to the Head Teacher, and some of the teaching staff, who were absolutely inspirational. They set standards high, and managed to create in their pupils that elusive desire to excel, not through fear, but respect.

    Still not sure what I wanted to do when I left, I took the advice from Career 'experts' and went towards the care sector. I did OK with that for a while, but eventually left, and after a short time at art college, became a company director in a successful commercial business.

    My cousin, who passed 11 plus the year before, became a shop assistant.

    I try not to be bitter, because in the end I'm sure I got the best deal, but I can't help wondering where I might be if I had been a year older. I made my way in spite of being labelled a failure by the system. How can you not be angry with someone who declares you worthless because you don't eat potatoes? (By the way, they were particularly awful - lumpy, disgusting mush!)

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