CAMILLE BERRIMAN: Report took me back to Wonderland

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A personal view
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Reading last week’s Bury Free Press I couldn’t miss the special report about Ixworth Middle School, which closed its doors on Friday. It was followed this week by Blackbourne and Beyton middle schools.

Yes, I admit to feeling a bit of a pang. As a Beyton pupil from 1987-1991 it was rather sad to read that the school which shaped me from a shy nine-year-old into a precocious 13-year-old was no more.

Of course, this would not have been a shock to anyone who has followed the long and drawn out School Organisation Review – but how many ex-pupils out there, like me, felt a little sad to read about their former school’s closure?

‘School days are the best of your life’ goes the old saying. I disagree, because I did not find it easy to fit in at school. That said, some Beyton Middle memories are imprinted on my mind.

What about the production of Alice in Wonderland, led by Miss Biggs circa 1989... I was a badger wearing a bad costume made out of papier maché (don’t ask) and ran on stage, did a little turn and then ran off again. I didn’t have any lines, but that stellar debut paved the way for amateur dramatics in adulthood. Now, I am frequently cast in the back row of the chorus – to come on stage and do some dance steps before skipping off again.

Then there was the time in English class when we saw a classmate being escorted into school by THE POLICE. Shockwaves rippled through the school that day, but we witnessed the whole (surprisingly underwhelming) episode from our second floor vantage point.

Or – and now this is so horrific it still makes me shudder – PE. At the end of every class, we were forced to run naked through the showers.

So, four years of vivid memories. Not all brilliant, but they helped to create the person writing this column today. And whatever you think about the merits of two-tier education versus three-tier, I don’t think three-tier can be that bad. After all, I survived the system and turned out okay in the end ... I think!

So Beyton Middle School – and Ixworth, and Blackbourne – thank you for helping me and thousands of other young whippersnappers to grow into capable adults. You will be remembered.