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Obstinacy in the face of Obduracy.

Three decades ago Salisbury boasted not only two Grammar Schools of good repute, but an Excellent Technical College at the near end of the Southampton Road. There were too other Schools which I have no experience of, which didnít require the passing of an eleven plus exam to gain entry to.

Prior to our arrival here the Grammar Schools were the subject of some controversy. There were those on the Local Council who wished to abolish both. Fortunately local Public Opinion was in favour of their retention, and a loose Association was formed to defend the retention of Grammar Schools in Salisbury. At no stage was I a member of that Association; but when living here was a Fellow Traveller, as ever a loner given to writing letters to the local Press, and Piping up at all manner of Public Meetings giving consideration to the matter. I recall one particular meeting held at a School opposite Godolphin, was/ is it called St. Nicholas' ? Seemingly the Salisbury Journal would happily have seen the Grammar Schools abolished, and I believe it was the then Editor who arranged that particular meeting , a man who decided he would put the case for the retention of the Grammar Schools, rather than invite another so to do. There were others there better equipped to fight the good fight for retention than he or I, however they said nothing, whereas I ever willing to stand up and be counted , put in my six pennies worth, in a tone of voice that some find irritating. As I left the meeting those who came to watch me drive off in a smart car, must have been disappointed to see my Renault 4 F6 Van.

I had three daughters sit the eleven plus, and all three went to South Wilts. School, however getting in wasn't as easy as that, because our home was outside the catchment area, and those within it got priority for the places available. That might have been that , had not an Education Officer advised me that had my then child been a Boy rather than a Girl, no problem! for there were places at Bishop's. It was that remark that got the first of my daughters into South Wilts, for after reading up the Rules and Regulations at the Reference Library, I went to Appeal on the basis that my daughter was being sexually discriminated against. Having no wish to be unreasonable mentioned we would compromise by sending our daughter to St.Mary's Convent School in Shaftesbury providing the Council paid her fees, for there were precedents for them doing such a thing. As the Council didnít fancy that for an idea a place was made for one more girl at South Wilts. That sex discrimination thing became common practice there after, and the next year the catchment area was redefined, so allowing my other two to join their sister. Thirty years later the village seems inundated with persons wearing the South Wilts Uniform. Hopefully those who need to wear hand me downs bought from the PTA Sales. At some stage I became Treasurer of that PTA and so became aware that the girls at the School came from every sort of home. I hope any who have been disappointed concerning their eleven year old's designated School, not only keep complaining, but if minded to attend either Grammar School, get them to resit the entry exam when thirteen. What brought all that on ?

THE SALISBURY UTC. proposed to be started at the Salisbury Police Station, not next year, but seemingly now the year after, because as ever there would seem to be a problem. According to 'The Journal' The Chief Constable has no wish to see Officers ousted so is engaged in Consultation. Does not Salisbury come under a Police and Crimes Commissioner ? What though is a UTC, seemingly it is a 'University Technical College' which in our case is sponsored by The University of Southampton, a Russell Group University. The idea is that instead of continuing to attend School, Students will leave School at the start of year 10 or year 12 and go to the UTC instead, where at they may study all manner of things each seemingly failed to master at school for which ever reason.

What on the earth has a fourteen to eighteen year old to do with UNIVERSITY ? Is this confirmation that our System of Education is the failure that so many feel it to be ? Which young person will wish to stay on at School, when at the age fourteen he or she is presented with an opportunity to avoid the restrictions thereof ? This proposal comes at a time that Wiltshire College on Southampton Road Salisbury has of a sudden dropped its entire sixth form tuition course for lack of applicants. One must wonder whether those who have the Governance of us have entirely lost their Marbles.

By all means lets have the like of a UTC , call it a University Technical College if one so wishes, but restrict entry to it to those of current school leaving age whose skills are Technical rather than Academic. How stupid Government has been to turn so many efficient Technical Colleges into third rate Universities. Establishments whose Degrees brand its Graduates as persons not good enough to go somewhere better. Why do we cheat young people into believing that time spent at such a place is worth the candle? For information see www.wiltshire-utc.co.uk/‎

contact : John B. Pope
Email : pionono@tiscali.co.uk