What’s lurking in “The Tin?”

We had our first family holiday abroad in October which meant opening “The Tin”. I’m sure most households have something similar. “The Tin” is a long metal box from Ikea in which I store important stuff: passports, birth certificates, spare cheque books etc. But I also use it to store my old school reports. I have every report from the five years I spent at my local comprehensive and I have no idea why I’ve kept them. I suppose it’s one of those things where I’ve kept them this long, why chuck them, especially when The Tin has space to store them safely.

We often hear quotes from school reports cited in the media where a teacher has either predicted that someone will end up in the profession for which they’re famous (e.g. writer, actor, politician) or where their teacher tells them they’ll amount to nothing.

P1050081I haven’t read my school reports for years and years but, as I rifled through The Tin to retrieve our passports ready for our holiday, I wondered whether there were any clues in my English reports to suggest my teachers knew I had it in me to be a writer. I knew there wouldn’t be anything disparaging because I worked hard at English and enjoyed it so I was rewarded with good grades as a result.

Here’s what my reports had to say:

1st Year (age 11-12) – 69% – 8=/29 – “works very hard, is enthusiastic and presents her written work neatly and thoughtfully”

2nd Year (age 12-13) – 75% – 1=/29 – “well done! Work has been excellent this year. She works with imagination and enthusiasm and is a pleasant and helpful librarian” [I’d actually forgotten I’d been a school librarian!]

3rd Year (age 13-14) – 70% – 6/30 – “done very well this year” [There’d been lots of teaching strikes that year so the report was a much reduced affair!]

4th Year (age 14-15) – no exam results as I was doing my GCSEs and it was all coursework-based – “has worked steadily since September and I have been pleased with the quality of the work she has produced. It is always neatly presented and she seems to have grasped what is required in literature. Her oral work is also satisfying” [the use of the word “satisfying” makes me smile as I went on to speak in public as a career in my recruitment and training roles]

5th Year (age 15-16) – Language – “always works to the best of her ability and not only is her work of a high standard, it is beautifully presented. Her folder is a credit to her and I hope she receives the grade I feel she deserves”

Literature – “as with language, she has worked conscientiously on her literature folder. The result is a pleasing selection of work which is of a high standard”

_MG_1543There are some themes aren’t there? Good presentation and enthusiasm seem to be strong themes. Sadly, there are no spoutings of my literary brilliance [hee hee]. No suggestions that I had exceptional talent and would take the publishing world by storm [please know that I’m giggling as I’m writing this!]

In the end, I got a GCSE grade A in English Language and in Literature (A* didn’t exist as this was the first year of GCSEs) and was extremely proud of those results. I’d have gone on to study A Levels at college had our local college offered English Language at the time but they only offered Literature. I’d have added Psychology to that but I have no idea what other subject I’d have gone for so I went to technical college and studied a BTEC in Business & Finance instead. I wonder whether my road to publication would have been any quicker had our 6th Form offered English Language. Would I have then gone on to study English at university? Would I have become a teacher perhaps? We’ll never know. What I do know is that I’ve always loved English, always loved reading, and always loved writing. Long may it continue.

4 thoughts on “What’s lurking in “The Tin?”

  1. Interesting, Jessica. It makes me want to get up in the loft and find my reports, if I haven’t already chucked them. (We have The Tin but just for the passports and important stuff like medical records). I didn’t stay on for 6th form (back in the olden days….) but often wonder if I’d have come closer to the literary world if I had gone on to higher education.


    • Thanks Deirdre. I hope you do go into the loft and find them as I’d love to know what they say. Isn’t it funny how a particular decision can change our career paths but make us wonder what would have happened if we’d gone down the first?


  2. I think my parents still have all mine somewhere, I must have a look. I’m pretty sure most of my subjects will say ‘could do better’ as I relied heavily on my natural ability rather than working that little bit harder to achieve better grades. Still, my sole A grade O Level was English Language. I’m not sure you could do English Language at A Level back in the day as I didn’t fancy continuing to study English Lit either (got my sole B for that. The rest were Cs and Ds (a fail back in the day). Should have worked harder!) but I would have liked to have done English Language. x


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