LETTER: Testing time that served me well

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Your letters

Head Teacher, Simon Simmons, comments regarding the testing of young children brought a smile to my face - and doubtless to others of my generation.

I spent the War years as a pupil of a Church of England elementary school located on the Sussex coast. Often we had to wear a gas mask for lessons and had to duck under our desks during frequent air raids.

Here I have to admit that I was probably a pain to all of my long suffering teachers - as collecting shrapnel, discarded bullet cases and cigarette cards was far more important to me than learning tables by rote - along with grammatical analysis.

That said, we were continually exposed to tests of one kind or another - plus a generous amount of homework which had to be submitted on time or face the threat of a whack on the hand with a ruler. I was frequently on the receiving end of that particular punishment.

That said - and in hindsight - the teaching at this primary school was first class. For example, I can recall learning the basics of algebra, geometry and the use of a slide-rule well before taking the 11-plus examination - which many boys from the school passed with flying colours - including myself.

On my return to London in 1945, I gained a scholarship to what was essentially a grammar school - with all the trappings of an Eton or a Harrow.

For the first two years - aged between 11 and 13 - we had a weekly report in the shape of a journal - which had to be signed over the weekend by a parent.

It contained all the information one would expect to find in a term report. On one particular occasion, I was tempted to forge my Dad’s signature - very badly as it turned out.

All Hell broke loose. My parents were summoned; my elder brother - a school prefect - was summoned to appear with me before the Headmaster. Clearly, I was about to get the sack!

Given this situation, all I could do was to stand in front of my inquisitors with a beguiling smile.

My lame excuse was that I had spent far too long on my Bible study and the journal had completely slipped my mind - adding how sorry I was to have caused so much trouble. And they accepted my excuse at face value.

That testing time served me in good stead in later life - especially during my stint in the armed forces!


Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham


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