St Dominic's VI Form College

The sixth form college in Untorn Tickets was based entirely on St Dominic's. But the useless teachers who said "Hi, call me Tony" were only half the story.

Our year were terribly unfortunate. We'd had the Lower Sixth at Salvo and were all doing fine until we were plunged, half way through A levels, into this ridiculously lax and unfamiliar environment. The school wasn't even built. There was one boys' loo for the entire school and for the first couple of months we had all our lessons in the hall - four separate lessons going on in the four corners of the hall. Quite often, we would be sent home because there simply wasn't a vacant class room.

There was constant building work going on. I remember a workman who strolled blithely into an English lesson and started drilling. When the teacher (funny how I can't remember any of their names) asked him what he was doing, he said "Sorry mate, I've been told I have to finish this by 3 o'clock". Yet again, we were all sent home.

Christine Latter, a girl on our year, lost an eye … repeat … LOST AN EYE … when a sharp stone flew out of one of the cement mixers that should not have been on when there was a school full of pupils around.

The net result was that pretty much everybody, including me, fucked up their A levels. I was lucky enough to get a job as a van driver at an ad agency which led on to other things but some people's lives never really recovered. Denis Dillon, bright, funny, should have gone to university, ended up as a road sweep.

It was a disgrace and I'd like to think it could never happen today. They may at last be moving up The Guardian's A level table but in 1980, they should have been on the wrong end of a class action law suit.

Many years later, out of curiosity, I went to a re-union and mentioned all these things to George Crawford.

"We always knew", he said, "That one year would have to be messed up and unfortunately, it was yours".

For all those 11 year olds, often from quite poor backgrounds whose parents had been so proud to have got them into Salvo or Sacred Heart, it was a pretty sorry end.
Paul Burke 73-80)

The change to co-ed and separate 6th form was being mooted as or just after I left. I recall thinking that it might wake them up; drag them into the 20th century. But perhaps not.

Crawford's comment sounds alarmingly similar to a military spokesman's 'casualties are inevitable'
(Ian Hennessey 64-71)

It was still being discussed in 72-73, but plans had firmed up a bit. Obviously not enough planning and building was done in advance.

I remember a conversation along the lines of Paul's with Goff Crawford, with I think, Fr Ray, at the end of which somebody came out with the "after us, the deluge" quote from Louis 16.

We didn't think it would be so bad, or that teachers could be so cynical.
(Mike Griffin 66-73)

The St Dominic’s fiasco was well known a couple of years before it happened. Having had a major O level catastrophe my future in the sixth form was somewhat doubtful. My father suggested that I redo the fifth form on a "part time" basis and go into the sixth a Year later. Monty was quite emphatic that this shouldn't happen as he knew one of the following sixth forms was going to be a disaster. The information was in a secret dossier which apparently came from MI6 and contained the warning that “Women of mad distraction" would result in examination chaos. I know a lot of the knitting circle hate Monty with a passion akin to Norman Stanley Fletcher vs. Mr. Mackay but the man kept me in the school just when it was most needed.

I remember him discussing with my dad that if I couldn’t do the whole sixth form at Salvo, it would be better for the me to leave and go to a sixth form college rather than don the black blazer for one year and then move. I recall thinking that the idea of working for a year and then coming back and dossing around in a mixed class seemed like fun.

Anyway Monty turned out to be right but the train wreck of a sixth form produced Paul Burke and Untorn Tickets, so it all worked out alright in the end.

My year produced Martin Coleman and me, so all in all, a bit of a disaster really. Rob "Roy" Lambert.
(Robin Lambert 71-78)

I too was one of those affected like Paul. One of the worst aspects was that the first time we were informed of the impending closure and transfer of the sixth form was around Easter in our 5th year. In the next breath we were advised there was little point applying for any of the other 6th form colleges as we'd missed the closing date for applications!

I suppose they had to do something to keep the student numbers up.
(Vincent Bull 73-80)

I went to Salvo from '74 to '79, and so was in the first year that did the full sixth form at St. Dominic's.

My memory of the transition was that the year above us (i.e. the year that did lower sixth at Salvo and upper sixth at St. Dominic’s) certainly had it much harder than my year did. The transition between the two institutions (certainly the right word for Salvo, not sure about St. Dominic's) was as much a cultural change as anything. We went from the strict discipline of Salvo to this strange world where all the teachers were laid back, including disconcertingly those that came from Salvo. I was in Peggy(?) Benbow's Tutor Group and she was nothing like the Frau Benbow of Salvo.

My year I think found it easier to adjust, as we had just completed O levels, and had started A levels in this new environment. I can only think that the year above must have been in a state of total shock at the change - not only did teachers change mid course, styles of teaching etc. did also. My only real memory of people in the year above was that they all seemed to be either in a state of depression or shock for the time we were there.

Moving on a bit, St Dominic's certainly was not finished when we started – I think the new building was there or thereabouts, but the existing school buildings were not refurbished. I seem to have some recollection of students (for that's what we were called there, not pupils) painting corridor walls.
(John Mulhall 74-79)

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