Thursday, 17 August 2017

Anxious August

A levels results day - I can just about remember it, back in 1968. Looking at the evening news today, some of the young people were lamenting how hard it is that the system is going back in the direction of everything depending on a final exam.  This was always the case back in them there days of course. One girl was expressing her difficulty in remembering stuff she had learned at the beginning of Yr 12  (lower sixth OK?).  Bless...  What about all the stuff you have to learn throughout life?...
Anyway... I was the last year of the 11-plus, 1964 in Cardiff. Our headmaster at St Illtyd's, Br Claude, was out of step with the incoming tide of comprehensive education - he had enabled the brightest stream in our school to do O-levels (sort of GCSEs - keep up there) a year earlier. So that meant you did A-levels early too, in turn meaning that if you wanted to take a shot at the Oxbridge entrance exams at the Christmas
afterwards, you could, and still not lose a year.  Now that was a killer week of exams - I did them in French and Spanish, three hours each morning and afternoon  Monday to Wednesday in one week, with a final one of Friday. I remember dragging myself up the school drive on the Friday at 4.30 or something, after everyone else had gone. I was relieved, of course, but suddenly realised this was also my last day in school, a dramatic moment. 
I can remember the day just around Christmas that the vital letter from Downing College, Cambridge (below, my first year room 2 windows immediate top right of portico) plopped through the letter-box. I was still in bed, when Mum or Dad brought it up. I opened it and read the contents - then turned over and stayed in bed a bit longer!  Typical teenager I guess.

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