My worst parent: NQT wonders what might have been

21st August 2009 at 01:00

Original magazine headline: My worst parent - Opportunity knocked

Working as an NQT in what's now labelled a National Challenge school, it was always refreshing to have some confident and aspirational parents, no matter how few.

Twins in my small Year 12 form group were blessed with such parents, and I remember it being a real pleasure to teach these boys English literature A-level.

Equally exciting was sitting with them and their father, an articulate "working-class man made good" as we trawled university prospectuses looking for suitable degree courses for both boys.

Dad described the type of place we were looking at, I commented on the pros and cons of courses, and James and Ed chipped in with questions about the student drinking establishments and ratio of female to male students.

After several sessions completing applications and visiting chosen universities for interviews it was so pleasing to discover on August results day that both young men had sailed through A-levels.

Moving to a new school in Norfolk, I thought no more about these boys until, 18 years later, I was eating an ice-cream outside a snack bar in a Devon seaside village. Ed's Yorkshire accent was unmistakeable as he rushed over to greet me. At last I was able to congratulate him in person and discover how he and his brother had fared. He informed me that neither twin had been able to attend university as his father had taken one look at the complicated Government forms needed to be completed to gain student grants and pay tuition fees and refused point blank to share such personal details with official authorities.

Ed and James had both secured good jobs and were "doing alright" but I couldn't help thinking, as I walked away, about what might have been.

  • The writer is now a teacher in Derbyshire.

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