Hazel, Adam and I took our first tour around one of the local secondary schools (they call them high schools now) that Adam may go to and I found the experience by turns moving and depressing. The school looked great, the staff were so enthusiastic (and young), the classrooms seemed comfortable and appropriate, they had a drama studio, two music rooms, rehearsal rooms, computers and "interactive whiteboards" in (as far as I could tell) every room. The students who showed us around and spoke seemed to genuinely enjoy being a part of the school...and they did appear to be a part of the school - not just there to be taught at.
I HATED school, it was something I just couldn't wait to get through, the teachers, for the most part, also seemed to hate school. School failed me or I failed school, either way looking around Elthorne Park High School yesterday only made me sad that I couldn't have loved school. I'm sure that given the facilities and enthusiasm and a bit of encouragement, given teachers who seemed to be enthused by their subject matter and with the ability to make what you learn seem real and useful, I might not feel like I wasted those years...and I certainly did waste them.