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My School Report from 1978, not terribly impressive

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 23 January 2016

It was my second year at Warwick Junior School and somehow, when we were streamed at the end of year one, I had managed to make it into the A stream and so joined Tony Wilkins (Mr Wilkins or AMW) in Upper 2W. My School report from that year has been unearthed by my father and it is not very impressive. In fact, poor would be a more accurate description.

To be fair, I was the only boy who had joined in the Lower 2s, most boys joined in the First form so they had an edge on me in that my State Primary (Byfield) was a dire hotbed of academic under-achievment. I suspect that the death of my mother in 1977 did not help matters and I did not like Mr Wilkins and I think that it was mutual. I had been very find of Mrs Hobday (Lower2s) and was also a great fan of my form master in 3A, Keith Winterbottom, but underperformed in the year between as this report makes clear. Number in class 25. Position in term 22, Position in exam 11. Never again did I suffer such a rotten year.

For each subject the report laid out your term and exam position and a grade for Attainment and for Effort from E = Excellent through G = Good to S = Satisfactory via W = Weak to NS = Not Satisfactory before your subject master added a few words. I am pleased to say that, even in the 1978 year, I racked up no NS or W grades although there is an S- for effort in Nature/Science "Another rather disappointing term's work - he does not exert himself". Sadly there were no E's either but in Maths (3rd in term, 9th in exam) I got G & G. In those days it was not A*s all round. Surely coming third in term merits at least a G+?

Geogrpahy was taught by Harold Robinson a man who liked to foster the impression that he was a total bastard to instil fear in his pupils. In the corner of his classroom there was a large cricket bat and next to it a poster stating "It is better to give than to receive". I thought he was a decent chap and so never suffered a beating although I know that the cricket bat did get used now and again, if only to maintain his reputation. My grades here 6=, 14, S, G are not too bad but I commend Harold for his comment " I congratulate him. He has at last begun to work instead of relying always on his native wit, a better show". Robbo clearly saw the hidden talent within me at an early age. He was a visionary.

Mr Wilkins was less complimentary about my English skills ( 18=, 16, S, S) "he displays a good vocabulary but at present tends to write as he thinks instead of thinking first. The result is long rambling sentences with little or no punctuation." Geoffrey Eve sorted that matter out in 3A the next year but the less said about that sadistic bastard the better. In Eve's defence at least I emerged from the third form a decent writer. The case for the prosecution was, I gather, made when he was ordered to retire after one "incident" too many.

Mrs Birt was not very flattering in my art/handiwork report where thankfully there were no exams or class positions for I feel confident that it would have been a 25, 25 to add to my S & S "He does not care to be instructed or to learn from his mistakes. He must be more receptive if he is to progress." Thank you Mrs Birt your comments were harsh but completely fair and I cannot complain at all. I laboured on with art/woodwork until the age of 13 at which point - having managed a 127 out of 127 in year position in a woodwork exam - we parted company. I think that Penny Birt might have predicted that one.

The report is summarised with a few words from headmanster John Strover "A good final result but he still has something to learn about self organisation and the mechanics of written work." Some of my critics might argue that 37 years later Mr Strover's view remains a valid one.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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