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Derek McMillan

Year 11 pupils leaving

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Our local rag had a scare story about police being drafted in to deal with year 11 pupils leaving today on exam leave.

I have a vivid recollection of the "good old days" when we left Selhust Grammar School in Croydon in 1968 and somebody set the dustbins on fire. This was pretty dangerous behaviour and could have set the school alight were it not for the fact that staff knew that it happened every year and it was therefore something they were waiting for.

My school was everything the right want. It was a grammar school and it had corporal punishment - yet even there there was disaffection so it is not a new phenomenon.

It is true that pupils are alienated and it would be nice to see some serious research into why. It is quite possible, for example, that constant testing for no purpose alienates pupils. This is different from saying "it is OK to get drunk and cause a nuisance" although that is how the right would read it. Their cosy nostrums will not solve the problem however, trying to find out the reason for the alienation might.

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Our local rag had a scare story about police being drafted in to deal with year 11 pupils leaving today on exam leave. 

I have a vivid recollection of the "good old days" when we left Selhust Grammar School in Croydon in 1968 and somebody set the dustbins on fire. This was pretty dangerous behaviour and could have set the school alight were it not for the fact that staff knew that it happened every year and it was therefore something they were waiting for.

My school was everything the right want. It was a grammar school and it had corporal punishment - yet even there there was disaffection so it is not a new phenomenon.

It is true that pupils are alienated and it would be nice to see some serious research into why.  It is quite possible, for example,  that constant testing for no purpose alienates pupils. This is different from saying "it is OK to get drunk and cause a nuisance" although that is how the right would read it. Their cosy nostrums will not solve the problem however, trying to find out the reason for the alienation might.

I guess there was a lot of "alienation" at Selhust Grammar School in Croydon? :blink:

I imagine it was a sort of a "proto class consciousness" on the part of those sons of accountants? (heaven forefend it was just the predictable product of the crap teaching and management of relatively intelligent adolescents) ;)

Thank you Derek you have cheered up greatly on an otherwise miserable Friday evening.

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Derek writes

My school was everything the right want. It was a grammar school and it had corporal punishment - yet even there there was disaffection so it is not a new phenomenon.

Exactly my experience at Maidstone Grammar School in the 1950s. Prefects were allowed to beat the kids too. I don't recall anyone setting fire to the dustbins but there was an end-of-year tradition whereby a "stunt" was dreamed up by sixth-form leavers. The stunt was often an act of vandalism and could be costly to repair, e.g. painting "BEER" in 6-foot high letters on the roof, placing a waste-paper basket on top of the school spire, filling condoms with hydrogen gas and letting them loose in the assembly hall (which had a very high ceiling).

We had a Combined Cadet Force (CCF), which met on Wednesday afternoons and went off on an annual field day, rather like the field day in "If". We didn't shoot the padre but I have to confess to firing a blank from a 303 Lee Enfield at a prefect's backside (blanks released a piece of wadding which could cause quite a nasty sting). Anyway, the prefect was a swine and throughly deserved it. I managed to convince him that it was an accident.

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Thanks guys - I have enjoyed some of your tales of yesteryear! Our students' imaginations only seems to run to egg and flour fights with each other, but tend include any unfortunate member of the public who happens to get in the wayonce outside the school gates. We do our best to prevent such activities but are not always totally successful.

I have to say though that such 'scare stories' as Derek mentions are not just scare stories - I know of school that this week called in extra security after receiving a report that a neighbouring school's Year 11's 'were out and on their way'. It wasn't the case - they aren't out until next week! Watch this space.... :blink:

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On a serious note , the article Derek refers to seemed to me to be an example of judgemental journalism. In a small town with two comprehensive schools unbalanced articles in local papers create alarm and prejudice among the parents of potential students.The scenes of students leaving the final Yr 11 assembly reflected a very different story from the rampaging adolescents described in the offending ( in my opinion ) article.

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