Letter: No humble school

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Sir: I should like to put a very favourable gloss on "the humble environs of Leeds Modern School" from which Alan Bennett went on to take a first at Oxford ("An Englishman abroad", 4 December).

The school had a remarkable headmaster, from the 1920s onwards through to Bennett's time, in Dr Geoffrey F Morton - GFM as we knew him. His aura led my father to choose to send me in the 1930s to Leeds Modern School rather than to the Grammar School.

GFM balanced scholarship with adventure. Alongside the academic regime there was a fascinating pattern of possible activities. At the age of 11 one could go down to Stratford on Avon in the holidays, living in tents, canoeing and swimming, with evenings in the theatre.

From age 13 one could be a member of a party on a camping and trekking tour in the Scottish Highlands.

At age 14 one might be a member of a trekking party to the mountains of Spain or, in my case, Austria. Every five years, there was a major expedition - I found myself on a five weeks' canoeing tour of the lakes and rivers of the Canadian Laurentians - and all these were financed by GFM's arm-twisting of the Leeds businessmen, at which he was an expert.

And in school, we had regular sessions with distinguished visiting speakers - Albert Schweitzer in my time, for example.

Not so "humble" a background perhaps?


Chigwell, Essex

The writer was head boy at Leeds Modern School 1937-1939