The third Friday in November is a regular date for Hawarden Grammar School old pupils from the late 50s/early 60s to meet, reminisce and exaggerate. I’m not a great person for staying in touch which I regret so this year I went.
For those whose memories don’t go back that far it’s maybe worthwhile describing secondary education 50 years ago. First of all of course there was the 11 plus which effectively split the youth of the day into two at the age of 11. However because primary schools were pretty good it wasn’t that divisive. My cohort included a large percentage from the council estates in addition to the inevitable middle class kids.
There were 4 forms of entry at Hawarden and that meant class sizes of over 40. That was not unusual. In the firsts and second years there were 2 mixed forms, one all boys and one all girls. And then in year 3 we ‘specialised’ which meant splitting the boys from the girls because boys did science and girls did languages. Actually there were 5 girls doing science in my year and 3 or 4 boys doing languages. However this meant excluding generations of girls from careers in science and engineering. And although the boys did one language their choices in the humanities were also severely limited.
O levels came in form 5. Many kids left and maybe one third stayed on until the 6th form. I seem to recall that most of the council house kids left at this point leaving just the middle classes with a focus on university or ‘teachers training college’. These latter institutions have now morphed into or merged with universities but were an essential part of the career path in those days.
Anyway this year there were about 25 people at the reunion including 8 from my year. I would have recognised none of them but it was excellent to meet them again and to find out that life had treated them well.