Friday, March 07, 2014


As a long standing ex-pat from the beautiful south, one of the regular communications I receive each day is a dispatch from the Southern Daily Echo website, showing me all the news from Southampton, the Waterside and the New Forest area, along with the news from Southampton Football Club.   It`s a much appreciated service and essential reading. Well, for me anyway.

Yesterday some interesting news came my way, courtesy of the Daily Echo, which announced that Hardley School had been placed in special measures.  Now, having had my primary school `education` in the village school at Hythe, at the age of eleven I was, along with my equally tremulous school chums, pitchforked into Hardley School, which was then a good old fashioned bog standard secondary modern school.   

And there I encountered my first regime of fear.  The school itself was a forbidding piece of architecture with grey walls and it even had a quadrangle onto which no-one was allowed to set foot without the most dire of consequences.  I don`t remember learning very much - there were gardening lessons, lots of physical activity, quite appalling school dinners and a cast of teachers for whom the advancement of their pupils never quite seemed to top their agenda.  

But perhaps one of the worst aspects was that we boys from Hythe had to get the school bus home from Hardley and on those journeys too there was a constant atmosphere of threat and intimidation from the older thugs, such as the infamous Bluey Miller, who all seemed to come from Dibden Purlieu.  We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when they all got off and we coasted down the hill to the comfort and safety of our village by the sea.   Trouble was, we had to face it all again the next day and so it was with no regret that after a couple of fraught years at Hardley school, my parents and I moved away from the area.

It`s strange how memories of school days and formative years stay with you but perhaps it was the dispiriting time I had at Hardley that made me greet yesterday`s news of it being placed in special measures with a feeling of vindication that after more than 60 years chickens have come home to roost. And of course it has also enabled me finally come to terms with having been Hardley educated. 

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