The Barclay School, Stevenage, home, in the 1970s, to some excellent teachers but regrettably, also imbecilic bullies - mostly within his own A1 class, several of whom should have been permanently excluded. CONGRATULATIONS to the vindictive pond-life who repeated the humiliations, over and over again. Reflecting on his life, better to have committed suicide - THEY WON. However, he has recently gained a remarkable insight into what happened to him; HE IS GOING TO FIGHT-BACK & NOT JUST FOR HIMSELF. Britain is not a civilised country; it was not in the 1970s and continues to not be, whilst parents permit their contemptible sons to behave in this way, to victims like Chris and many girls; having served as a school governor at a troubled secondary, he knows how disbelieving most reading this would be if they had sat on the exclusion panels he had.

 

A nervous, far from healthy little boy aged 11 in his first year at secondary school (1970) - he had been cruelly bullied from day one with none of his friends from primary school at his new school (his first choice had been Nobel); he was absent for 40 days (8 weeks) that first year. Having served as a governor at a tough secondary elsewhere and trained for an Open University GGCE, Chris can state that HALF his class at his secondary school (incl. some girls) deserved to be permanently excluded! From his report for that year first year (see below) you will see him near the bottom, =27th (by the time of 'A' levels, he was probably 6th best academically in that class, which contained the most able academically of five classes per year), with the top  4 or 5 pupils getting straight A*s at 'A' level in Pure and Applied Maths and Physics).  Hertfordshire turned 'Comprehensive' in 1969, the year Chris arrived at Secondary school.  All final year primary school pupils had been informally tested within their own school, enabling the county to allocate one class (at Barclay it was 1A1 - under the present system it would have been Year 7) of pupils who would previously have secured place at a Grammar, to every school - Chris personally thinks this is a fairer system than operates in Slough, where his 3 sons were educated. Some nominally 'Comprehensive' systems are no such thing, such as in nearby Maidenhead, Berkshire, where the former single-sex grammars still manage to attract the majority of the most academically-able pupils!   Strange that but for the time-being, let us leave aside the 'rights & wrongs' of grammar schools. Right next to Barclay was Alleynes, long-time grammar, in fact one of the oldest schools in the country.

Some of the culprits who made Chris' life such a misery for much of his time at Barclay Secondary School, Stevenage; U-15 Football team, N.Herts League Champions 1972-3 (Chris is the slighter of the goalkeepers - he had shot up height-wise by the end of the 6th form); Mr Wallace the teacher.

First XI Cricket Team 1976 - the year Chris left; by this time he had shot up in height and his shoulders broadened, such that the bullies largely left him alone! Only two 'culprits' in this line-up (only three others from his year in the team; Mr Monk, Deputy Head, was the teacher.


Chris Chadwell beside the Henry Moore Statue during a visit long after he had left The Barclay School - sadly removed to protect from theft (Photo: J.Chadwell)




Chris Chadwell's school report at the end of his first year at Secondary School, aged 12 (one of the youngest, being born in late June) - the comment of the English teacher rings true to this day! "HAS A LIVELY MIND, BUT HAS NOT YET LEARNED TO MARSHAL HIS THOUGHTS IN A FULLY EFFECTIVE MANNER"! - as readers of this web-site and his university lecturers can bear testament.... Mind you, he has always been serious-minded with the content of his work being accurate and truthful.  The same cannot be said of most journalists and politicians, who are serial liars!!!

Regrettably, a majority of Chris' memories of life at secondary school are not pleasant - down to severe bullying which began the very  first day at this school, when he was picked on for, like one other boy, turning up in short trousers....  His parents were short of money and wished to get the most out of the short-trousers he had worn at primary school in Stevenage (he had moved in his penultimate year of primary from Cranleigh, Surrey, getting on fine but unfortunately, none of those pupils befriended there went to Barclay, which was the other side of town).  This left him prey to the cruel, downright vicious behaviour of my so-called class-mates, within the 'Top' class academically (a few years ago I met a former secondary school teacher who experienced a 'break-down', who considered the 'brightest' were the worst!)  There were a small number in the class who did not participate  much in the bullying/abuse but not one ever defended Chris, not even the one 'friend' he supposedly had - he was more interested in protecting himself.... Chris attended a couple of School events 20 or more years years after he had left the school; one to commemorate the retirement of Don Monk, the long-serving Deputy Head and then one class reunion at a pub in Stevenage (there had been a previously class reunions but he had not been contacted on that occasion, which took place at the Marquis of Lorne Public House, where Chris regularly played darts, aged 16-17).  He had hoped to meet two pupils who were not guilty of any bullying but they did not attend (one was working in America at the time).  The saddest thing was that most of those he spoke to did not seem to have "improved with age", in all probably bring up their children to behave as spitefully as they had ..........

Chris had no real complaints against the teaching staff, a couple of whom were excellent (in particular Mr Pull, his form tutor for his first five years and Maths teacher up to 'A' level along also Mr White the Rural Studies [this became Environmental Studies] teacher).  He suspects some of the staff did not make that much effort to sort out the widespread bullying, which remains prevalent in most schools in the UK to this day. If Chris had been Head, quite a number of those bullies would have been permanently excluded! Given that certain of those involved were to attain the highest 'A' level grades the school ever recorded. Chris does have a reasonably informed take on the current state of schools, from the experience of his three sons, service as a school governor and the completion of most of a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education - Science at Secondary Level, Biology Specialist).

His elder sister was at Barclay but she did nothing to protect him, which she could have, as girls in the early years of secondary can be as physically strong and tall as the boys and had friends.... She was two years ahead of him - Year 3 (Year 9 in today's typical systems), well-developed in the chest department for her age, so already attracting attention from older boys, well able to deter his bullies, if she had wished. By Year 4 (Year 10 nowadays) she had a boyfriend in the '6th Form' (Years 12 & 13 in today's terms).  When Chris' family arrived in Stevenage, his sister went to Bedwell, a nearby (but not the nearest) secondary, which was awful!  She kept quiet initially about her mistreatment but what went on eventually was exposed, his mother, rightly, made a fuss, taking her out of that school; she transferred to Barclay, in the 'Old' Town, involving two bus journeys.  Thus 'Chadwells' were already 'known' to the Chief Education Officer for Hertfordshire.  As mentioned earlier, Chris on got fine at Lodge Farm Junior School and requested to get a place at Nobel, literally a stone's throw from my house, where all his new friends ended up.  His mother had made it be known that a place at Bedwell would not be acceptable.  You have guessed it, he was assigned a place at Bedwell!  No coincidence, as surely the Chief Education Officer held grudges against 'troublesome' mothers.  Chris ended up at Barclay, travelling the miles each day by bicycle - well, it turned out to be an extra mile either way, because after a matter of a few days using the bicycle enclosure at the school, his cycle horn was broken (recently, he discovered the two culprits who stuffed the horn with the fruits found on perimeter hedging - who thought it was funny at the time).  His parents reacted badly to this, especially, as money was so tight.  They knew the parents of another pupil in his class, so it was agreed that Chris would cycle to their house and leave his bike in their shed, then walk back to school.  He did this for 5 years - fortunate to have survived without a serious accident, as the additional route had a section with serious risks (as well as a further mile+ to the daily journey, both ways).  Once in the "6th form" (years 12 & 13 nowadays), pupils could leave their cycles in a separate part of the school; by that time,  Chris had started to grow in size and the bullying was much reduced.  He experienced little or no trouble from the A2, B1, B2, or C classes, who were much friendlier towards him than his own 'bright' class-mates - which reflects badly upon them, especially as they took so much pleasure at ridiculing him. There was never any provocation on his part, though his obvious distress undoubtedly led to repetition - "Oh what a hilarious time they all had". IF any of them ever bother reading this, they will no doubt celebrate the long-term damage this has caused - so should be congratulated. Chris is sure they will not feel guilty.

Famous statue and clock tower in Stevenage town centre

The year he began secondary school, Hertfordshire went 'comprehensive' but as far as he knows, this was either a unique or at least uncommon experiment at that time.  No formal 11+ examinations were sat but each primary school still assessed pupils.  EVERY secondary school in Stevenage (and presumably all over the county) were allocated a class which would otherwise have attended a grammar.  Barclay School was built for the 'Festival of Britain' in 1951 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_of_Britain) just 6 years after the end of World War II.  The location was chosen bang next (in places just a footpath apart) to a long-standing grammar Alleynes, which in fact was one of the oldest schools in the country.   Both schools have seen better days, with Barclay being on 'Special Measures' after an unsatisfactory Ofsted Inspection in recent times - though the most recent one is more positive (see: http://barclayschool.co.uk/), though I am 'amused' (concerned) that almost 50 years after my first day there are STILL issues about 'protecting' pupils!  In fact a pupil was stabbed to death in the footpath/lane between Barclay and Alleyne's.   Alleyne's Grammar School as Chris knew it, can trace its roots back to 1558!  It became the grammar back in 1869. In 2013 it changed to the Thomas Alleyne Academy (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thomas_Alleyne_Academy).  By chance, I got to know a former member of staff there, who did not rate the equivalent Physics department at Barclay highly at that time, saying that longer-standing members of Alleyne's staff considered the change to having to educate non-11+ pupils, lowered the tone of their school!

Chris' year may well have been the best ever at Barclay both academically and sporting achievement-wise (it had long enjoyed a good record in the latter respect and certainly despite his experience, compared favourably with Bedwell - on one occasion an older, much larger Bedwell pupil stood in the middle of the cycle-path holding a brick (one of Stevenage New Town's strengths were its cycle-paths, which were much safer than roads) forcing Chris to apply the brakes of his bicycle, threatening to punch him; from time-to-time, he had stones thrown at me as he cycled past that school, en route to Barclay; once again, once he reached a certain size, this stopped.  When Chris' sister completed her 'A' levels, she secured a place at Hatfield Polytechnic (which subsequently became the University of Hertfordshire); I think one pupil in her year got a place at a traditional University. Whereas, two years later (Chris' year), with the more academically-able intake, about 10-12 pupils got places at traditional Universities.  There were a number of very able Mathematicians, one went to Bristol, two Bath (one of whom bagged a First Class Honours in Statistics and then a doctorate] another got into Newcastle on Clearing to study Maths & Geology, where his academic career took-off, going on to take a Ph.D. in Geology - Chris' academic achievements have been modest in comparison to the best from the school.  Chris felt the Maths teaching at Barclay was of a very high standard and that our most able pupils (not him, though he got a decent grade in 'A' level Pure Maths, though not an A*) could have held their own with those in any school in the country including the top Public Schools.  Overall, Chris did not consider he had missed out unduly in academic terms by not attending a grammar - except for his English education, where I was let down badly, though certain other departments were weak to poor at that time (he attended from 1969 to 1976, though much has changed since then). He visited with his family some years back; his sons were not impressed with the state of the exteriors of the school buildings.

First XI Football team, 1976 - Chris had sprouted several inches and broadened in the shoulders but still the slighter of the two goalkeepers; Mr Wallace and Mr Smith (Senior Games teacher) far right; Barclay was one of the best schools for sports in Hertfordshire; only 6 from Chris' year are in the team above. The school went on to win the County Cup not many years later.


However, there is no escaping the serious psychological harm Chris suffered due to bullying and persistent ridicule.  He took no interest in girls in the early years of secondary school, describing them as "faggot faces"! It would have been a smart move to maintain this until 18...  He then started to notice the undoubtedly pretty younger sister of a classmate. He had always been painfully shy and never rushed into things.  For a long period, his 'classmates', especially the girl's brother, kept on assuring Chris she liked him, which was untrue, of course; he had been set-up.  Chris also felt sorry for her, as her nickname was 'flatsy'. Eventually, he plucked up the courage, paying what he felt was a compliment by asking her out. BIG, BIG mistake; she had not realised he existed, so his inquiry must have come as a  shock. Stupidly she informed the 'pack of jackals' in his class.  Chris suffered months of RIDICULE, having his exact words thrown at him, time after time, much to the hilarity of all concerned.  He wished that the ground would have opened up. IF HE HAD MORE IMAGINATION AT THE TIME, WOULD HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. The TRAUMATIC experience severely damaged him for decades afterwards (close on half a century now).  What a contemptible thing to do.  Girls are not obliged to go out with a boy just because they are asked out but should conduct themselves in a CIVILISED way, keeping the matter to themselves and trusted friends. Chris has MUCH more to say on the topic of BULLYING and just how shockingly badly too many boys conduct themselves towards girls - who should be viewed and treated like ladies (even if they do not conduct themselves as such).  That more are not, is EXCLUSIVELY DOWN TO MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THESE CONTEMPTIBLE LITTLE BOYS - WHO WOULD NEVER BEHAVE AS MEN, LET ALONE GENTLEMEN.

A few years ago Chris was approached by one of those class-mates, admittedly not one that played a major part in the bullying, to attend the funeral of one of the bullies.  Why on earth would he wish to show a bully that level of respect?  Not least, as he suspects the children of those bullies have themselves been bullies during their school-days and the uncivilised moronic conduct continues.  Chris is not in agreement with how schools deal with (in most cases, denying) the existence of bullying - he observed bullying in Holy Family R.C. School in Langley, Slough, which his 3 sons attended, which ultimately led to his youngest being removed (he had not been bullied himself) and 'Home-Schooled' for 18 months... Chris took a stance against such behaviour. The senior management sided with the bullies, especially from one particular family, the mother guilty of intimidating staff members.

*CHRIS HAS BEEN SERIOUSLY ILL DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS, SPENDING MUCH OF EVERY DAY IN MAJOR PAIN, THANKS TO PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY AFTER NERVE DAMAGE IN HIS FEET, WHICH HAS BEGUN TO SPREAD AROUND THE BODY. HE TAKES A COCK-TAIL OF MEDICATION INCLUDING PAIN-KILLERS.  THIS HAS BEEN DEBILITATING MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY, WITH 'CRUSHING' EXPERIENCES LIKE THE BRIEF EXCHANGE AT SCHOOL BEING REPEATED OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN HIS MIND, 45 YEARS AFTER THE EVENT! SUCH HUMILIATION AND RIDICULE STILL CONTINUES TO DAMAGE HIM. WHAT A PITY SUCH EXAMPLES OF 'POND-LIFE' EXIST AMONGST 'CHILDREN' IN SCHOOLS. RECENTLY, CHRIS MET A FORMER TEACHER FROM THE LOCAL GRAMMAR SCHOOL, WHO EXPERIENCED A BREAK-DOWN; SHE OBSERVED THAT THE BRIGHTEST PUPILS WERE THE WORST! THAT WAS CERTAINLY THE CASE AT BARCLAY! HE REMEMBERS PUPILS FROM OTHER CLASSES BEING FRIENDLY TOWARDS HIM.

LAST YEAR (2019) CHRIS SUFFERED FROM POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, WITH THE RIDICULE HE SUFFERED AFTER ASKING THE GIRL OUT AT BARCLAY, HAVING BEEN BURIED FOR A LONG TIME, RESURFACED, LEADING TO HIM BECOMING CLINICALLY DEPRESSED & SUICIDAL - SO CHEERS AGAIN TO HIS WONDERFUL CLASS-MATES.......

Summary of First Year's Report - quite an achievement given how badly I had been bullied (which no doubt contributed to my absences due to ill-health; I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers - my intestines have always been my 'Achilles' Heel').

Year 2 Report - note complimentary comments (for that time) with observations of being serious-minded and hard-working, though in life, taking my responsibilities seriously has not always served me, as it shows other people up.... 'Satisfactory' was over-used...















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