HOLLAND PARK is a daunting place if you come from the kind of educational background I did - a grammar school. The first time I went there I remember thinking, is this a good idea? There were these large gangs of what looked like marauding thugs. But my daughter wasn't frightened; she was very enthusiastic.
It wasn't particularly trendy when Becky went. There weren't that many middle-class parents. The children could have gone to private schools. Their father went to a public school, and we thought hard about it. But I approved of what Holland Park was trying to do. The other comprehensives we looked at pretended they didn't have problems with drugs or racism, which I thought was stupid. I knew it couldn't be true.
I was a bit frightened of them not achieving. I knew I could send them to crammers, but that's not a perfect solution. Oliver was an ordinary, difficult teenager who didn't do much work, but the teachers didn't give up on him and eventually he decided it was all quite interesting. They try very hard to make each child feel important.
The children have had big gaps in their education. Their classical knowledge isn't as rich as mine. But I didn't know what politics was when I was at school, and I didn't know about other cultures and religions.
They have both gone through phases where they have found it difficult to get much done because of the disruption. That's not going to change as long as there's such a broad spectrum of children. It's what makes most of the problems, but it's also what makes it so rich. Although I think it's hard for them being in that kind of demanding society, it equips them to be adults.
For my two older children it's been an enormous success. They had a smashing time. They know how to tackle life's problems, which I think is an important part of education today.Reuse content