Thursday, 12 September 2013

I was told I was "borderline"

"I attended a Boys Primary School in the late 50s-early 60s.

When we took the 11plus I was told I was “borderline”, I had an interview with someone (I don’t remember who) to decide if I was suitable to go to Grammar School. A few weeks later the whole school was called to the school hall. The Head read out some boys’ names, and then told them they had passed the 11plus and they were going to Grammar School. He then told then they could go home early to tell their mothers (fathers would all have been at work then). The rest of us were sent back to lessons. 

I was deflated by this insensitive way of telling us the 11plus results.

At Secondary Modern we were in streams, A-F, I was in the A stream. We had exams in all subjects except PE/Games, twice a year. A small number of pupils moved up or down the streams as a result of the exams but very infrequently. We didn’t study languages, but one teacher tried German and French lessons after school for a while, but they didn’t last long.


We all left school at the age of 15(no O levels or A levels). A small number of us took the exam to go the local further education college to take no O levels. After taking O levels I did an Engineering Apprenticeship. 11 years later I trained as a teacher. Most of the other pupils started work at 15 mainly in unskilled jobs.

Meeting class mates years later I realised many had abilities that were not brought out by their education, I have friends who went to Grammar School and they also say it was not a good education. Many left Grammar School without qualifications, and were only prepared for public exams.

My feelings about the Secondary Modern are mixed, I think the teachers tried to give a well-rounded education, and in some ways not having public exams to prepare gave those freedom teachers today don’t have. I do strongly oppose Grammar schools."

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