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NAME: Richard Clarke  Richard Clarke

DATE: 23 May 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 57-63

What a brilliant site - just come across it, feel I have to say something but not sure what so I'm adding this as a new thread. First my grouse: selective education and the grammar school system absolutely and appallingly indefensible. My brother Pete is twenty times brighter than me but 'failed' the 11+, so had to take buses to East Barnet (I could walk just around the corner to QE). Ditto single-sex education - my own kids went to mixed inner-London comprehensives, and have turned out much better adjusted citizens. QE though did a great job of turning out disaffected rebels.

Having got that off my chest, I do have some fond memories of QE. And of quite a few of the contributors to the site - great to see so many of us are still around. And although some of the staff were pretty grim (S C0cks, Poker Pearce (though I may have tested his Christian charity by declaring myself an atheist) I felt most weren't too bad, just a bit remote.

Biggest influence? Has to be Eric Crofts, a brilliant, inspirational teacher, turned me on to biology, largely responsible for what I've been doing over the past fifty years. If anyone's interested, there's a summary here. It was because of Eric that I went to Aberystwyth, (as did Ray Johnstone fourth from Left in the chequered cap in the 1963 Biology field trip photo [see under 'biology trips' in 'School Trips'], though we didn't meet much - he was into beer, me into more esoteric substances. The link was one of Eric's colleagues, Prof of Zoology (but I can't remember his name). He's the gentleman right-centre in the middle photograph of Chris Mungovan's photos, 2nd from right front row of the right-hand photo and 3rd from left front row of the photo next to it (I'm the one in the hat standing behind him).

Eric came to see me in Aber just before he left QE for the National Trust with a view to my applying for his job - I'd already done a year's teaching and was living with my girlfriend in a remote farmhouse with a (North) Vietnam flag on the gatepost. He stayed overnight with us and we chatted but I heard no more about the job, a stroke of luck I think 'cos I'd have made a lousy teacher and certainly wouldn't have wanted to return to work in my old school. I also owe Eric for the early am weekly chamber music rehearsals in the biology lab. He played oboe or bassoon and I was one of a couple of clarinets, can't remember who the others or their instruments were. Eric came to our house in London some time before his death in 2008. Here's an anecdote: on one of those early '60s trips to Wales he stopped our minibus to pick up two young women hitch-hikers who travelled and stayed with us at least one night in the Bangor YHA. I guess we thought it was a bit daring then, looking back I think it was just another mark of what a cool geezer he was. Anyhow I owe him a lot.

Re music, We had a (mainstream) jazz group for a while, AlPine and the Horns - I played very bad tenor sax (still have it). AlPine was our pianist but I can't remember his name. As I recollect we only played a couple of public gigs and the real musicians had their own groups elsewhere. I always wanted a baritone like Bruce Garvey so I could play Gerry Mulligan. Ned Calverd played string bass - I met him playing bass in a pub in the mid-'70s and we saw a fair bit of each other but then lost touch.

Tim Edwards came to QE in my last year I think. I met him a few times subsequently in an entirely different context altogether and he said he had an awful job trying to pull the school into the C20th in the face of opposition from the old guard. I'm sad if the school has reverted to some of its old ways.

Weird how memories come back, must be age. Again, great to see how many of you/us are still around. Keep posting 'till you pass on!


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 01 June 2013


Well, Richard, as you may discover on other threads the old school is more of a selective school than ever and has more than reverted to its old ways since the days of becoming for a while a single sex comprehensive. The present headmaster, Neil Enright, explained the system of selection at the last 40 Society luncheon. He was also pleased to compare the school results favourably with well known public schools (St. Paul's and Westminster) as well as with the local rival selective girls schools, who have been at the top of the A Level tables in recent times. Of course the school remains very much bigger in size and pupil numbers compared to our day, a residue from the comprehensive era and follows the pattern of years 7 to 13 rather than 1 to 6. (Another residue?). There are women teachers but no girls in the school as yet. Marlborough College, the well known public school, near where I live, has been co-educational since 1989.


NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 04 June 2013


The initial plans for comprehensivisation c1969 involved combining QE Boys with Ashmole (in Southgate, where I think Strugnell went from QE to become the first headmaster) and QE Girls with Southaw (in East Barnet: now demolished - alma mater of Elaine Paige). These never came to fruition, of course, though, the two girls' schools went as far as adopting a common uniform. It always struck me that the obvious and thoroughly liberating way forward would have been to combine the two QE schools.


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 04 June 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

I'm sure QE is so much the better for its selection of boys who are considered primarily to have the potential for excellence and to keep the potentially troublesome element out - nothing wrong with that at all. Indeed that is the thinking behind the rigorous entry selection procedures used for the Royal Marines. Exceptions always manage to slip through the net of course!!


NAME: Mike Cottrell  Richard Dilley & Mike Cottrell

DATE: 05 June 2013


Richard what a controversial opening to your first posting! [see original message]. It's somehow reassuring to see that none of your radical views have been diminished over the last 50 plus years. Welcome to Vic's wonderful website. I too was greatly influence by Eric C and my love of all things horticultural can be directly traced back to him. Was your Zoology professor a Dr Jones? I think that you have now become the 12th member of form 1B 1957 intake to have made a posting. Not bad for a class of 29 pupils. Is this a record?


NAME: Paul Buckland

DATE: 12 June 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1962 - 1969

Richard Clarke refers to Eric Croft as the teacher with the greatest influence on him [see original message]. I suspect that this was partly because he always treated everyone as a grown up. He was neither my form master, nor did I ever study biology but I did know him quite well during my time at QEs and spent a couple of weekends up at the hostel in Suffolk when he was part of the team. My friends and I always referred to the hostel, somewhat disparagingly, as 'the hut'. The last time I was there Eric was part of the party doing some work at Dunwich. He had by then left QE and was working for the National Trust. He remarked, apropos of nothing in particular, that in two weeks he would be on a train heading towards Cologne where he was to lead two school trips for the Schools Travel Service on a ship on the Rhine. My friend Ian Holloway and I remarked that we, too, would be on a train going towards Cologne on the same day (same train) and we met Eric on the ferry at Harwich. When. We parted next day at Cologne, he gave us the ship's itinerary and said if we were near to come and see him. On the Tuesday we were in St. Goar and went to find him on board. He arranged that for 3 marks a day we could join the ship and be fed three meals a day. So down we went to Bingen and all the way back to Cologne for 18 marks each. It was great fun as, aside from the trip, the other passengers were a party of 6th-Form girls from Glasgow and their young teacher. It was typical of Eric that he went out of his way to help us out and we spent several evenings ashore in his company. A lovely man!!


NAME: Matt Edmundson

DATE: 06 August 2013


Dear Richard [see original message], I'm afraid the job of creating "better adjusted citizens" is the duty of parents, and not schools. A school must impart knowledge, a good school useful knowledge, and a great school useful knowledge and a thirst for learning throughout one's adult life. QE, like most grammar schools, is up to that task. As for inner-city comprehensives, if some pupils receive a decent education, then lucky old them, but I think you'll find that for most parents in non-selective areas (which by the way are so few in this country - Kent, parts of London which used to be in Kent, Lincs, Bucks, Altrincham in Lancs, and parts of Ulster - as to be an insignificant part of the education sector, yet attract a disproportionate amount of frothing hatred), the path to a good education is money - either through school fees, or the means to live in a good catchment area. If you don't have the money, then for the most part you can forget about getting a good education for your child.


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 11 August 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

But Matt, you will still see 42" tv screens inside, with BMW and Audi cars parked outside many of these 'inner city' houses from which the hard done by children (who are well used to standing in long-haul fast bag drop queues) have to make do with mere comprehensive schools. It really is a hard life !!


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 14 August 2013


You do bring up a good subject for discussion, Matt, in connection with the different roles of parents and schools in the forming of well adjusted citizens. In my days at QEs the school did try to play a part in trying to mould the character of boys as well as imparting academic knowledge. EHJ used to address us in morning assembly if such matters as boys not giving up seats on buses to OAPs and ladies were reported to him. Prefects and sub-prefects did report bad behaviour outside school if they saw it and punishment of doing lines were given. The wearing of school uniform including school caps was all meant to instill a smart outward appearance. I do not know how much this spirit pervades at the school today but I believe there are some community projects. In my area in Ludgershall, Wilts, pupils from the local comprehensive school have been involved in litter picking parties to assist the council litter clearing efforts.

It is of course an actual fact that whilst we as parents do try to influence our children in what we believe in regard to matters of right and wrong, they do not always follow our guidance or well meaning advice. The Bible for instance gives several instances of sons of kings, priests and prophets not following in the good ways of their parents. I have noted the reverse in reporting in literature the differing views of Stalin's daughter and children and grandchildren of prominent Nazi figures from those of their parents. My own eldest son Paul sends both our grandchildren to selective schools despite his good comprehensive and university education. My granddaughter goes to school on Saturdays including for games just like me and hence is not available for Saturday family outings in term time, though she does have shorter than average terms and can make outings and join in family holidays in the holidays.

The terrible resuls of when children are not receiving or else not responding to either parental or school teaching and discipline are widespread in so many geographical areas including where I live. What I find also deplorable is the ineffectiveness of our police force to deal wth the consequences. I have suffered for many years with youths breaking in to my property and also acrawling graffiti on mine and neighbouring garages. There is a certain underclass of people who cannot be controlled. It should also be acknowledged that the main thrust of Richard's original message was not school and parental influences in turning out "better adjusted citizens" but the issue of whether selective and single sex schools are better than otherwise or not. Views may differ and I have expressed mine elsewhere on the site. It should aso be noted that QEs is not a limited catchment area school but has some pupils from afar who sit and pass the entrance exam.


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 16 August 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1956-63

I was rather alarmed by Jas Cowen's claim that "There is a certain underclass of people who cannot be controlled."  Maybe I am misunderstanding his point but it reminded me of a near identical quote from a German gentleman who was similarly concerned about what he called 'der untermensch' - 'the inferior class' and we all know how he dealt with them!

10th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 05 September 2013


Martyn (above) queries my expression about underclass and the lack of control over them. I am certainly not talking about underclasses in the way Hitler did talk about Jewish and other classes of people he disliked and went about getting exterminated nor even in the general overall use as expressed in Wikipedia and relating mainly to America but in the sense of Ken Auletto's description type(b), i.e the hostile street criminals who terrorize most cities and who are often school dropouts and drug addicts. I have not read The Emerging British Underclass by Charles Murray but I expect he includes the same. Ludgershall is not as badly affected as some places as we see on TV but the grafitti and damage to property by these youths I find deplorable and it has been going on for many years unchecked. The police put a lot of effort in policing / controlling demonstrations and soccer matches but very little effort against the anti-social matters I refer to.

Maybe to avoid confusion another expression might be used for the 'underclass' word. Some locally call them feral youths. If Dad's Army Hodges was around they would be b****y hooligans and there is a fellow oldie who also has one of the ravaged garages who calls them either ragamuffins or rapscallions, words I haven't heard in recent useage anywhere else. On TV in other areas I have heard them called scum or worse expressions which would probably get the thread censored by Wilts and Hants Library services. Of course it is not just little gangs of our local youths that cause trouble. There have been tales in the press of the Oxford Union Bullingdon club's wrecking activities but I believe they paid cash for the damage they caused.

11th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now



I was interested to see an article in The Sun on Monday, January 20, 2014 headed "Make Rich Pay For Education." Dr Anthony Seldon, who is the head at Wellington College, Berks, says that the wealthiest parents should pay as much to send their kids to a top state school as they would to an independent. He believes his proposals will widen access to private education and bring new cash into the state system. Dr Seldon has been matching deeds to words in recent times and we see the influence in our local Wellington Academy. Of course a spokesman for Education Secretary Michael Gove said:  This will not be Conservative Party policy", but it is an interesting theme that others may pursue.
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