I attended comprehensive school from 1987-1992. Prior to that I had the opportunity to visit as I was Joseph in my primary school’s Christmas production (a LOT of lines), but only saw the school hall. The actual scale of the school was a mystery until my first day in September 1987, and frankly it was a shock to the system.
These days, kids get to go to open days, which is where we’ve just been. An evening of Coldplay, headteachers in George Melly suits, and toe-curling refrains of “be the best version of yourself” wasn’t what I had in mind… and it certainly didn’t appeal to me.
But of course, that doesn’t matter. My children need to go to the best school available and we can’t quite afford a private school for three terms a year for a trio of tiddlers. No, the answer is the local comprehensive school, and with the whole (well, it felt like it) establishment at our mercy, our 10 year old twins were absolutely enthralled.
English, sports, sciences, humanities… it was all there, thrilling them. But what really hooked them was the arts department. Art, music, drama, with two or three enthusiast teachers (I had a nice chat with the music teacher, ended up jamming, and embarrassing myself), is everything I dreamed of at their age. As it was, I had the most wonderful art teacher for my GCSEs, but we just didn’t have the scope of subjects on offer that the twins do.
We had a remarkable head teacher at comprehensive level, and I was pretty fortunate with heads before that at primary school. One seemed a little too… well, hindsight echoes of Tony Blair, perhaps… But school in those days was different, seemingly without the money they have now. We scraped through with old text books, no/few computers, and creaky old buildings. Although my college was largely older than the school I went to…
I’m afraid there’s little levity or comedy in this post, save the slightly hypnotic nonsense and Demon Headmaster reference (unsurprisingly, Terrence Hardiman turned up in a 2004 episode of Midsomer Murders the other night). With so much to concern around the world and close to home, I feel strangely reassured that our children are going to move forward in life via a school that believes in its students (we were pupils back in the day of course).