Saturday, 31 March 2012

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
By Anonymous on This blog on 27/03/12

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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!

By Oddie Park on This blog on 27/03/12

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

I moved to a junior school in the south of England in 1964 from Scotland and joined the last two 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 hated 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 out 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 form college, which was at the grammar school. Without the basic O levels it was always going to be hard, but I ended up after 3 years there with some decent A 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.
By christina on This blog on 23/03/12

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

1. I was  from a single parent family and my mother and I moved around a great deal. I went to 11 different infant and primary schools.  I don't actually remember taking my 11+. What I do remember was being called to the girls grammar school for an interview because I was '' borderline" the interview was terrifying. Four very stern women kept asking me what I wanted  to do when I left school. I was really very uncertain but thought I might want to be a teacher!

2. That was obviously the wrong answer. I remember a letter coming addressed to my mother. She opened it in my presence, and I learnt I had failed to achieve a place at the girls grammar because 'I was uncertain about my long term future, and what I wanted to be' I felt angry having got to an interview and then being rejected, but even then I knew deep down a girls grammar was not for me. No one in my family had ever got beyond secondary modern school so why should I be any different? was the thought going through my head.My family were not bothered one way or the other.
3. My first experience of secondary school was perhaps different from many because at the time my junior school extended into a secondary school. Therefore all of my friends who had been with me at junior school moved through with me.I enjoyed those two years, and felt my learning experience was a good one. However 2 years into my secondary school, the  school became junior only and I ended up at an all girls secondary modern. I hated it.  That settled. I became a prefect, and two years after that I moved again at the age of 15 to  the local technical college to take my GCSE's followed by A levels. The four years there were some of the most formative of my life.
4. One thing I do remember in my first secondary school was that the local weekly paper ran an essay writing competition, and we were encouraged to send in essays, for which the winning one got 2shillings and six pence! I got rich on that. I also remember that you sat in the class according to your ability, so as the teacher faced the class,in  the first desk on her left hand side sat the brightest pupils whilst in the bottom right hand corner sat the 'least bright' I remember being in the middle because I was hopeless at maths. It was very intimidating.Your places were read out at the beginning of the week. The other thing that was intimidating was that if you received free school meals your name was read out on a separate register. There was always separatism in relation to free school meals. Even at college we were given meal tickets and had to stand in separate queues.
5.The expectations of me were not made clear till I went to college. At my first two secondary schools I was left to drift. Goodness knows how I actually got to sit the entrance exam to go to college, because my secondary school finished at 15 and that was it. At college I remember being encouraged to take A levels and in my first year I applied to university to do sociology and social administration after A levels. My law lecturer nearly persuaded me to change to law saying  that I would never get into sociology after a secondary education, but I stuck to my guns and even though I had 5 rejections in a week from my chosen universities, I eventually got an offer of a two Bs and and a C from Newcastle
6. I left my secondary education with 6 O levels and three A levels, two As and a B. My friend called round to tell me he had got three B's and I was ecstatic for him, but he embarrassingly relalised I hadn't got mine, so he told me. I had the best results of the college. I was ecstatic!!!! But I had to work for it. It didnt come easy. My mother spent the summer telling friends I hadnt got the grades to go to teacher training college, my initial career choice, I had to go to university instead.