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To ask those who escaped a dire secondary modern school education and achieved a degree or higher to put their hands up.

(73 Posts)
sandyholme Fri 13-May-16 13:13:00

I left a dire 1980s secondary modern school with only 3 GCSEs all lower than C grades yet i have managed finally to gain a Degree with the Open University!

I am therefore wondering how many Mumsnetters also achieved in education despite being deemed a failure at 11 and having numerous barriers shoved in their way in the process .

I feel a bit of a 'fraud' though because i sought out the very schools that barred me to educate my children ( that is because they are the best schools available and thats just the way the system works where i live)

I guess though i am hoping to hear of other people who bucked the system, despite being ordained down a non academic path at 11

Littlefluffyclouds81 Fri 13-May-16 13:18:15

My boyfriend failed his 11+ (it was shortly after his dad left his mum for another woman). He went to a really bad inner city secondary modern, where he basically just fucked around and left school with crap qualifications.

He went to night school to do A levels in his early 20s, then did a degree, then a PHD....and has been a senior university lecturer for the last 20 years.

lovelyandnormal Fri 13-May-16 13:20:30

I went to a terrible secondary school. I came through it academically fine although I learned nothing. Socially and emotionally was another matter and I wouldn't do it to my children.

OurBlanche Fri 13-May-16 13:30:21

Yup! Dire, rural, hopelessly mired in coping with seasonal absences and forgetting the other half of the student body. Completed a BSc and Masters in my 30s (got a 1st in both toom but don't want to boast too much smile )

Anything is possible once you get started.

cojmum Fri 13-May-16 13:35:10

I truanted a lot, I hated school the last time I went to mainstream school was in year 9, I went for 10 days.

I then got put in a school for children with behaviour problems and only managed to stay September - February, I got excluded from there too.

I have and Open University degree now and I am currently studying for my second.

winkywinkola Fri 13-May-16 13:38:05

Crap high school but persevered with A levels are doing really really badly in O levels.

Got a BA and an MSc and a PG Dip but zero confidence in my abilities.

winkywinkola Fri 13-May-16 13:38:19

After doing badly in O levels

jellyfrizz Fri 13-May-16 13:40:30

My partner passed about 3 GCSEs badly and got no A Levels but went on to complete a degree and masters and has done very well in his career.

No one should write themselves off - ever.

MewlingQuim Fri 13-May-16 13:41:15

I spent most of my GCSE years in the pub. Abuse at home and bullying at school plus crap support from teachers meant I was just written off. No one gave a fuck, so I didn't either. I ended up with 3 GCSE grade Cs which was pretty good considering how little I cared.

In my early twenties I studied at night classes while working at 2 jobs during the day. I got enough qualifications to go to university, then went to uni and got a first, then did a PhD smile

My old teachers probably think I am a druggie/prostitute/dead. Wankers.

squashedsausage Fri 13-May-16 13:45:27

My secondary school was one of the worst in the country in terms of GCSE results (but I went in the 90s so it was all comprehensives around here, no 11-plus), it was an inner city school with a bad rep. I did get a good batch of GCSEs though even though very few of my school friends did. I didn't learn much from school itself, but just liked reading at the public library and learned most things from there. It didn't even have a sixth form but I went to the local FE college to do A Levels.

I went to a red brick uni at 18 and then went back for a second Bachelors a few years later. Studying for an MSc now. All self-funded through savings, bursaries and scholarships/loans, no bank of Mum and Dad (who both left school at 15) here.

BurnTheBlackSuit Fri 13-May-16 13:46:34

Went to a really crap comprehensive school. I got my GCSEs in spite of it, not because of it. I went to a 6th form college and then to a Russell Group uni where I got my degree.

When at Uni, in one of our lectures (60 or so of us there), lecturer asked who had been to private or grammar school- there were only about 3 of us who hadn't. Shocking. This is in the early 2000s, so not that long ago really.

SallyMcgally Fri 13-May-16 13:47:39

My husband left school with 3 o levels. This didn't stop him getting a place at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he got a Double First and a PhD. The only students in his year who got Firsts were from state schools - they had already arrived knowing how to motivate themselves and to study independently.

Twirlywoooo Fri 13-May-16 14:09:54

I left school with no GCSEs, a combination of a horrible home life (I ran away at 15 and never went back) and a crappy 'sink school' .

I enrolled in a FE college at 16, sat my GCSEs and AS levels, worked two part time jobs to support myself and 20 odd years later I'm a registered, qualified HCP, and have an OU degree (first).

I'm about to start a masters with the OU. My family wrote me off, my school didn't care and I had to work damn hard to get here.

Snoringlittlemonkey Fri 13-May-16 14:12:45

My secondary school was dire. Lots of bullying, teenage pregnancies and drug taking. I was told the best I could do was the local factory or secretary.

I have a bachelors degree, a masters and I'm working towards a PhD. I was also a commissioned officer in the armed forces. I'm now an entrepreneur grin

My sibling was told the same and is now a multi-millionaire. Anything is possible!

The only person who can limit you is yourself.

elliejjtiny Fri 13-May-16 14:12:49

Me! I failed my 12+ (weird money saving system in bucks at the time meant everyone started secondary school in year 8). Left secondary school with 4 gcse's and a GNVQ. Graduated from university aged 22 with a 2:1.

Beepbopboop Fri 13-May-16 14:13:53

My primary school was put into special measures when I was there, and I went to a truly awful secondary school - one of the worst ones in the county I live in. (2nd lowest GCSE pass rate).
I picked all the wrong GCSEs and A levels which were completely unsuitable to my talents. Dropped out of sixth form and messed around for a few years, then decided to go to university. Obviously I couldn't get into a top university with my less-than-perfect academic past but I went to an ok uni and did well in an extremely challenging science subject. I probably was more motivated than my peers because I knew first hand what being stuck in an awful job for years with no prospects was like.

wheresthetea Fri 13-May-16 14:15:36

I went to a failing school that was demolished halfway through my GCSEs and replaced by an academy (which ironically enough within 5 years was also failing - I don't recommend them in any sense). Got a first from a Russell Group uni.

KamMum Fri 13-May-16 14:29:01

I was kicked out of school at 14 and continued 'education' in a pupil referral unit. I just about got GCSE''s but they were poor as I bunked a lot. I still managed to get an apprenticeship at 16 and now for in government. Anything is possible as long as you are determined!

whois Fri 13-May-16 14:29:57

My uncle left school at with no qualification. Dicked around doing manual labour type jobs for a few years, flitting from one job to another. Then got on an apprentice scheme, realised he was enjoying the learning and went to college in the evenings and did GCSEs and then A levels and then went to medical school and qualified nearly top in his year!

ghostyslovesheep Fri 13-May-16 14:31:48

I left school with a C in English and a B in History - I now have a masters

mmgirish Fri 13-May-16 14:32:56

I dropped something in primary school once and the noise greatly annoyed my battle axe teacher who shouted across the classroom "mmgirish you have the brain of a fly' and then carried on what she was doing. I was mortified.

Went to a rubbish secondary school with really badly behaved kids with some lazy teachers who didn't appear to care if we were learning at all. However it gave me the idea to become a teacher because I always thought that surely even I could become a better teacher than this...

Went to uni self supported at 21, even got a postgrad from a RG. I did become a teacher in the end. I love it. I try to tell my students than they can do and achieve anything. That they can go anywhere and be anything they set their mind to be.

screweduppotatoe Fri 13-May-16 14:33:34

Yep, I joined the army when I left school because I didn't gain one decent GCSE. I left the army in 2001 and thought (after many dire telesales jobs) that I need a career.

I managed to get five A* GCSEs, Access to HE quals, BA English Language, Literature and Writing and finally my PGDE.

I was always told that I was shit at school.

Godstopper Fri 13-May-16 14:48:21

Island comprehensive, now (with all other schools on island) in special measures.

Suspended around 8-10 times, at risk of permanent exclusion. Disruptive, verbally abusive to teachers. I am not proud of this, but it is what tends to happen to a teenager bounced around foster care after being removed from alcoholic, violent parents and three years of sexual abuse by the next door neighbor.

Took G.C.S.E's, received 5 A*'s, some A's, some C's, and a D.

Oh. I'm also deaf. Not just a little bit. But profoundly (I had a cochlear implant over a year ago).

One teacher encouraged me to stay for A-levels.

Got into every uni I applied to. Rejected somewhere few people dare to and ended up at UCL.

Lost the plot a little psychologically. Ended up in hospital.

Dropped out, knew I wanted to get a degree, so got a job, saved for three years, and funded my BA at York. Did the MA (distinction). Then PhD (passed with no corrections recently). Now applying for academic jobs.

It would be a mistake to take me as an example of someone who shows that hard work alone can overcome a poor background: in many cases, it simply does not. I recognize that I'm something of an anomaly, and believe me, academic job hunting is a nightmare.

I teach students who place a lot of stock in their G.C.S.E's/A-levels and then wonder why their university grades are radically different. I place little stock in G.C.S.E's, and don't assign a great deal of weight to A-levels in terms of how they will do on the course. Most often it boils down to a 'spark' that is not always reflected in high school performance for various reasons.

NotQuiteJustYet Fri 13-May-16 15:01:01

OP - and all of you lovely, intelligent folk, I cannot thank you enough for this thread. This is exactly what I needed to read today, more than you could have imagined.

I left mainstream school at 14/15 due to bullying and an eating disorder. College would only allow me to study 5 GSCE's on restricted grades because of my 'troubled past' despite being a member of Mensa from 11 - all of which has left me with some deep seated doubts in my academic abilities now.

Roll on today, I'm a first year OU student sat staring at a TMA that's due in in 3 days and honestly I could cry, but you beautiful lot have just given me the boot up my arse I needed.


OurBlanche Fri 13-May-16 15:13:02

YAY! As one sporting good manufacturer says - Just Do It!

I usualy add - Sod All The Naysayers grin

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