Sweet sixteen? I don't think so

TASTER day for ageing Year 6s at our local secondary school, which arms them with maps to find their way around all the big legs, long corridors and the one-way system.

"Ah, look at all the cute little ones!" exclaims a Year 10 to her friends. "Aren't they sweet?"

It is a mystery how anyone could detect sweetness in young Star, terror of Class G. His dyed hair and clenched-fist ear studs suggest other adjectives.

Still, the mighty ones of the primary school are about to morph over the summer holidays into the lowest of the low.

And compared with the older secondary years, they are at the moment cute-ish. But those Year 10s were cute once. Yes, even the Year 11s, who spent most of the warm afternoons this term emptying Bacardi Breezer bottles and scattering them all over the local park.

It was a bad summer. The three Ss - "spitting, swearing and smoking" - reached an all-time peak, as the Year 11 annual night of misrule, supposed to be a few high spirits on the eve of study leave, went too far.

September's Year 7s will look, somewhere above the level of the big-bottomed trousers and the belly studs, for role models. They will find, because our local secondary has no sixth form, adolescence at its beastliest.

Plunged into a place with six times as many pupils as they are used to, but no heroes, they will make heroes of what is around.

Now imagine how it would be if a seventh of that school were through the worst of the hormonal maelstrom and working towards jobs and university.

You point out the effect on the number of A-levels offered. There might be pupils who could not do psychology? Look, with my system, we might have pupils who do not need psychology. Teachers would have the satisfaction of teaching A-level and pupils would be a little more human and a lot happier.

Let's bring back sixth forms. Or do you prefer an annual release of 200 or more 16-year-old Stars from every secondary school in the land?

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