Ann Torode: There on sufferance

Ann was born in 1943 in Dulwich, London. She was sent to a special primary school, then known as an 'educationally sub-normal' school until her mother won a battle to have her moved to her local mainstream primary school. From there Ann went on to a girls' grammar school and afterwards to university.

Here Ann describes how one teacher helped her escape from primary school.


It was a big change insofar I was then the only disabled child and I was teased horribly
and the teachers didn’t think much of me, they didn’t think I’d achieve anything.
I was there on sufferance, there were stairs, everything was set for non-disabled children and I had to fit in.
Well you’re here now, get on with it was their attitude and they didn’t think I’d do anything.
So it was very bad and so when I was naughty it wasn’t because I knew everything or I’d already learned to read so I was bored, it was because I had this problem.
And then I went into a class with this brilliant teacher called Mr Wright, which I thought was rather nice, looking back on it and he had a question box and you put questions in and all my questions were about the origins of the universe and this and this, all the things... I was nine at the time.
So he realised, you know that something could be done with me and he pushed and through his encouragement, then I went on to take the eleven plus.
I just think it’s all so invidious. I hate talking like this, I really do because the eleven plus was the worst thing that happened to that generation of children.
I passed it and people I knew didn’t and why? Luck, chance, you know. You did it at the right time, you fitted in with the quota, they had a quota for girls which was less than, fewer than boys, and it was invidious, absolutely in fact the whole idea of IQ is invidious. So when I talk about it I’m not a happy bunny. I’m just saying, that’s what got me out of this school.