Tag Archives: Sixth Form

Proud Mama

14 Dec

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alex001

I have two gorgeous sons.  That’s not why I’m proud, though I am proud.

They are kind and generous and hard-working.  That’s one reason I’m proud.  Or three, to be accurate.

I have a post coming up about Tory Boy; today I’m going to tell you about Spud.

From the age of four, Spud wanted to be an actor.  He played the lead in many a school production, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar – his Munch munch, munch munch was Oscar-worthy, in my opinion – and Jonah and the Whale.  I must try to upload the video of his singing I Need A Boat.  Adorable.

The Hub and I were convinced he was going to make a career in acting.  We were anxious but accepting, because he is a natural.  Then he went to high school and discovered rugby.  Rugby practise clashed with drama club and drama club lost. Our flab had never been so ghasted.

Rugby was abandoned after three years – too many wet and freezing early Saturday mornings and not enough aggression on his part to be a serious player. He was enthusiastic but nice – not a winning combination in rugby.  I was relieved when he gave it up, especially after the time he was knocked senseless for a minute.  I couldn’t watch him play; it hurt me too much.  I have plenty of photos of his scrapes and bruises if I feel nostalgic.

He never went back to drama, however.   We couldn’t convince him.  He has a full week with long school days, hours of homework each night and weekend, and his Manchester City season ticket, so we didn’t push it.  He said he wanted to concentrate on his GCSEs, knowing that no parent is going to argue with a child who claims he wants to work hard to pass his exams.  Did I mention he was clever?  And a little manipulative?

In September of this year he entered Sixth Form.  For my non-UK readers, that means two years of tough exams which must be passed to enter university at eighteen.  However, universities require more than good exam results; they want to see evidence of extra-curricular activity.  Spud became a mentor for new pupils starting high school; joined the climbing club; volunteered to help at school open events (we have always had to press-gang him into this; we insisted on it, because of how much the school is spending on him.  He just wanted to stay home and do homework.  Yeah, right; we believe you, Spud); and – wait for it – auditioned for the school’s Classics play.

Considering it has been five years since he’s done any acting to speak of, he did well to get the part of The Messenger, the third-biggest role.

It wasn’t enough for him.  A sign went up in school:

Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’  – auditions.  

The auditions took the form of workshops, then call-backs for the bigger parts, then more call-backs (this school takes its drama productions seriously).  Spud read parts of the text, had me drill him in the story, and watched clips on You Tube.  He couldn’t find a complete version on the internet, or he’d have watched that as well.

Spud desperately wanted to win the leading role of Prospero.

Prospero and Miranda from a painting by Willia...

Prospero and Miranda from a painting by William Maw Egley; ca. 1850 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spud won the leading role of Prospero.

That’s not why I’m proud, though I am thrilled.  I am proud because of something that happened in one of his auditions.  The teacher had the students read different parts together.  Spud and his partner finished reading and the teacher said to him, ‘Thank you.  You were excellent.’  

Spud was pleased to be complimented, of course, but mortified for his partner.   He immediately made a point of telling the teacher that if he was any good, it was thanks to his partner working with him.

I’m proud because he made sure to give credit to his friend, and because he was embarrassed to be singled out at the expense of someone else.

I don’t want my children to boast about themselves.  That’s my job.

 

A Brief Explanation Of English Schools

8 May
Cover of "School Daze"

Cover of School Daze

I wrote a post, School Daze, about Spud’s last days at school (until he goes back for two more years in September).  It was understandably a little confusing for non-Brits, as Janie pointed out, so here’s a brief explanation:

Children start school the year they turn five, in Reception, presumably named because it is the first time they are received into school.  I think it is the equivalent of the American kindergarten, but many schools don’t even have gartens, kinder or otherwise, especially in the inner cities.

Next come Years One and Two, ages six to seven, known as the Infants.

Years Three to Six – eight to eleven – are known as the Juniors.

We have infant schools and junior schools and infant and junior schools, which are known as Primary Schools.

High School follows at eleven, turning twelve, starting in Year Seven, to Year Eleven at sixteen.

It is legal to leave school at sixteen and go out to work or on to College or Sixth Form.  College is not varsity, it is for further studies aged seventeen-eighteen. Colleges – also known as Sixth Form Colleges – are separate institutions which only teach that age group.

Some high schools have sixth forms, but most state schools in Stockport do not have a sixth form.  State schools are public schools, not to be confused with schools known as public schools, which are private schools.

Private schools and grammar schools – which are fee-paying high schools, apart from those grammar schools which are not fee-paying high schools – usually do have a sixth form.

The term, Sixth Form comes from the days when high schools were known as Secondary Schools and had First Year to Fifth Year instead of Year Seven to Year Eleven.

Secondary schools were known at one time as Secondary Moderns or Comprehensive Schools.  Secondary Moderns were not comprehensive in their teaching and Comprehensives were ultra-modern until pupils trashed them.

We now also have Academies, which are privately sponsored state schools, but I don’t want to confuse you so forget about them.  Everyone else does.

Sixth Forms consist of Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth.  Despite there being seven years of secondary schooling (two optional), there is no Seventh form – not even when there was no Year Seven.

The Scots have a different system – and probably the Welsh and Northern Irish, as well.

An important point to remember: the Northern Irish are British as well as Irish, and not just Irish like the Irish.  The English are British and the Welsh are sometimes Welsh and sometimes Welsh and British.  The Scots are a law unto themselves and tend not to worry about British law, preferring Scots law, because we – the English, who are British like the Scots – will never take away their freedom.

I hope this helps.

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