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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Grammar School Girl

So Mrs May has decided were going back to the Grammar School era to help with social mobility ?
I was a Grammar School Girl back in the 70s , most kids got huge gifts and much acclaim from their families if they passed their 11 plus , My mothers response ?
"Do you know how much the uniform costs ?"
Thus began several weeks of arguments between my parents , my dad was solidly working class to the core, a Labour man who had missed his chance to go to Grammer School due to his dad doing a runner , he wanted me to go . But my mother just got more and more angry at wasting "her " money on the damned uniform . The rows just got more and more unpleasant , it go to the realms of her screaming at me that she supposed that I had done this just to spite her , because I didnt have the looks to find a decent man to support me .
My dad eventually won by just not moving an inch whatever vileness she spewed , he funded the uniform , I dread to think how and off i went to the other end of town and another world . Congleton Girls Grammar , long demolished and replaced with yet another identikit middle class housing development .
To say i was a square peg in a round hole was an understatement , I just didnt fit in so many  ways, but ive never fitted , these days i would have been statemented .  As everyone says , im just like my dad , a man who believed in the Workers Education programme , read endlessly but was a proper working class male of his time .
Mrs Sproson stuck in my mind forever , that woman hated me with a vengeance , she was our French teacher and was French married to an Englishman , she just spent her time sending me to repetition and detention , mainly because I informed her I saw little point in learning a language that had no relevance in the modern world .
The super bright kids were streamed up to learn Latin and Greek the rest off us just toddled along , Im quite sure we had a staffroom like no other , Miss Maynard our maths teacher seemed to spend a lot of her time weeping in the store cupboard , I did hear she eventually married and grew a spine .
Miss Foukes , scary Domestic Science teacher , she seemed to think learning to clean a cooker correctly was akin to a Nobel Prize , I still have a filthy cooker by her standards , so that was time wasted . Mrs Fanshaw stereotypical 70s teacher , with a trendy bob and little car and endless enthusiasm , in fact she was the only teacher i ever got along with . Mr Mitchell a very strange bloke who seemed to be terrified of women , yet was teaching in a girls school? There was the history teacher who hated me for knowing more about history than she did and the fact that i got 100% in my end of term exams despite never doing a stroke of coursework . I was good at the sciences , hopeless at music and the arts . I think a lot of my problems back then were that i  get a bit obsessive about a subject and learn it to death but if I see no point in it , its not going in my head whatever the punishment .
I think I saved the best till last , Miss Wilkie our headmistress . Scary lady, drove a little car like a mental midget , wore tweed trouser suits and smoked endless fags , usually had one of her cats draped around her , they came to school each day in the car . She taught us English Grammar , we were all terrified  Back then we hadnt heard of lesbians but she was was i think very asexual, very educated and a bit of a man hater . She actually resigned on the day she was told the school was going to become a comprehensive , with boys!
I think I baffled her , by then my mother was "a bolter" so it was just me and my somewhat baffled father , who had to have endless meetings with her about my behavior . I was the first child to have divorced parents and the first to see a psychologist , but i was the second to be asked to leave . The first having been my cousin who was the only girl ever to get pregnant .
So do I support Grammar School education ?  Not really , a good school is a good school . there could be much more equality within the schooling system than there presently is . The current educational lottery system for senior schools serves no purpose , the wealthy will always get the schools they want . Probably the best educational move would be to issue senior school teachers with tasers , fear was the one thing that kids understood , the truly scary teachers always had the best results . Streaming kids works , it doesnt need to have the label of Grammar schools stuck on it , every kid has potential , just not with how many A grades they score, which sadly is all they are judged on .

9 comments:

  1. I also went to grammar school, I was given a choice after 3 years, leave or be expelled!

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  2. I went to an all-girls' grammar school, hated every minute of my 7 years there. The only good thing about it was Latin, I'd never have had the opportunity to study it at the local comp.
    Our uniform was once voted ugliest in the country on Live and Kicking and Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me) was a few years above me .

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    1. I think the one thing you notice about grammar school girls is there independence and the fact they'll all be rebels to the grave

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  3. I was a grammar school girl and my daughter has just left after 7 years at the same school. I consider us lucky in our county that we have more than half a dozen grammars - I'm a big fan of them. My second born attends a grammar, and my 3rd sat the entrance test this weekend. Having worked in both a grammar and the local (to us) comp I would take the grammar every day - discipline, pastoral care, student behaviour (and some parents!) - and the end academic results.

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    1. We are surrounded by Grammar Schools here , my daughter was offered 3 and flatly refused to go to any , for some baffling reason she picked the worst school in the area where she knew nobody , didnt do her any harm she left went to uni and got a good degree. Daughters ....I will never understand

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  4. My husband went to the grammar school in our town and had a crap education and no qualifications and always a manual job (when not self employed). I went to the comprehensive and then the Tech college to do A levels (both were excellent), always had a good well paid job and eventually a Masters Degree. We have been married 45 years next month and still laugh at our educational backgrounds and our original vastly different social groupings!

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    1. Me and Mr Bah humbug are much the same, I have the qualifications , he left school unable to read at all and didnt learn till his 30s , these days dyslexia is recognised back in the 70s you were just thick

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  5. My niece in London passed her 11 plus, but no way would she go to the local grammar school. She would be the only blond haired blue eyed kid in the school eating ham sandwiches. Trojan horse thing School is predominately Muslim!.

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