For some time now, I have been following a blog written by someone who went to the same primary school as I did. Recently it became apparent that we were in the same year group, but not the same academic stream. After completing the 1st year in class ‘1a’, I was moved down into the ‘b’ stream where I stayed for the rest of the time.
The main memory that this blogger’s post triggered was leaving Primary School and moving to Secondary School. The year is 1965 and I’m thinking it is around September/October time. My father had left his job as a reasonably well paid coal miner because of health problems, and was now working as a bus conductor for what was then the West Yorkshire Road Car company. Times were beginning to get quite tough. Our house was heated by coal fires and as a miner we received, every three months a concessionary supply of coal. What I mean by the word ‘concessionary’ is free. Every three months we would have 1 cwt of coal dropped into the street, which was quickly shovelled into the coal cellar. After leaving the coal industry, this free coal stopped. That and the reduction in dad’s wages were beginning to bite a little.
I seem to remember both my parents and me sitting in the classroom, with my form teacher (may have been a Mr Woods, but I cannot remember) discussing my Secondary education. It was quite plausible it was said that I could go to the Grammar School at Roundhay. I had heard through my school friends at the time that this would be an expensive time. I would have to have a full School Uniform. This consisted of a blazer ( least one) two pairs of black trousers, a number white shirts, a school tie and a pair of black lace-up shoes. There was also a football kit, rugby kit and a PE kit. There was no way my parents could afford that amount of spend. There was a discussion around the fact, that all this uniform was available at a certain store in Leeds, but … it was possible to buy the same clothes as second hand from the school. That was a non-starter, as I had heard on the school grapevine, that everyone would know they were second hand, simply by their condition. This would automatically lead to bullying. I was not going to have that. I began to hope that I would fail my “11 Plus”.
The two subjects that I was apparently good at were Arithmetic and Religious Education. I began to wonder what would happen if I made a mess of those two subjects and I decided to ensure that I would answer some the questions incorrectly. Which is what I did. To this day nobody believes me, but I know I did get some questions wrong on purpose, so who knows. All I know is that I ended up going to the school I preferred and not the Grammar school.