19 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Introduction

Year 6, and my last year in Primary School was an important year. It was the year of the 11+examination, the examination that dictated the educational path we would follow in Year 7 on wards. If you passed the 11+ exams you went on to higher education at Grammar School in the nearest town and if you failed the 11+ you continued with low-level secondary education usually at your present school.

I failed the 11+ examination and it seemed I was doomed to continue on at Barton School and end up with only a barely, basic education. Through discussion with others my parents were advised to send me to the Secondary Modern School located in the nearby town of Penrith. A much better school than Barton School with numerous staff teaching the secondary students unlike Barton School with only 1 teacher to cover all the secondary students.

I now could bike to Pooley Bridge village in the mornings and then catch the bus into Penrith. My parents also learnt at this time that no one from Barton School usually passed the 11+. Pupils from Pooley Bridge usually went, when old enough at 8 or 9 to Yanwath School a few miles up the road towards Penrith, on the bus. At this time, my brother John also attending Barton School was transferred to Yanwath School and better teaching. When the time of his 11+ exams came around some 3 or 4 years later, I'm glad to say, he passed with flying colours.

A whole new world of education was opened up to me at Penrith Secondary Modern. Over the next year or two I began to realised  how much improved this new school was, in respect to Barton School. It still a lower educational standard than a Grammar school. Maths levels stopped before algebra and trigonometry. A good standard of written English was taught but the level stopped short of reading the Classics. Poetry came into English also and to a surprisingly good standard. It was here I developed a love of poetry, but that is another story for later. Bookkeeping and basic business subjects were taught. Science, Biology and Botany were all combined and taught to a reasonable standard. History and Geography were taught to what I think even now to a good level. The sole practical subject taught was Woodwork. Sport was practically non-existent, I don't know why.

Boys about to enter year 6 were streamed into 2 separate classes, those with a good chance of passing the 11+ examination and those with a lesser chance. My friend Peter Embley, a year behind me was in the "rejects". The accelerated learning class almost always got 100% pass rate in the 11+ exams and some in the "rejects” were late bloomers and scraped through the 11+.

Discipline is the next story and is worth reading.

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