Prospects on the Beach

“Blimey, this A Level fiasco isn’t particularly good is it? Judging kids on their background and not on their academic achievement”, Dave said whilst looking at his phone.

The Petersons were on their first holiday of the year visiting Dave’s parents in their house near Rye in East Sussex. They themselves were staying in a nice hotel in Eastbourne which they checked into at the last minute having found out their original hotel was a literal shithole.1

Now the Petersons were sitting on Birling Gap beach overlooking East Sussex’s iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, Will and Eleanor were playing in the sea whilst Dave and Sarah were keeping an eye on them whilst discussing the recent A Level fiasco.

“Good thing Will and Eleanor aren’t going to do their A Levels for another nine years or so,” Dave mused as he looked at his phone.

Dave was looking at the A Level and GCSE results of various schools in the Warwick and Leamington area, which were potentially where Eleanor would go to in September the following year.

As you’d expect, Beauchamp Boy’s School and St Mildred’s School for Girls, the two major private schools in Warwick, had very good grades. The non private schools not so much, considering the governments algorithm. The school with the worst grades in the area was Zanzibar, which was to be expected.

You see, no one really liked Zanzibar. They hated the fact that it was full of dysfunctional teenagers who would see that for lunch they were going to have “cheese and crackers” and thought it would be funny to rub off the last three letters so that it would say “cheese and crack”. Many a rumour had been spread about Zanzibar.

“I hear the staff grow cannabis in the roof.”

“I hear they stick things down with glue, which some of them sniff.”

“I hear the teachers drink coffee.”

Well, you get the idea. Every year Ofsted would visit the school, and every year they would give it grade 4 (inadequate), and every year the school would be exactly the same as it was the year before. No change whatsoever.

Weirdly, despite all this, Dave was planning on sending Eleanor there in September next year and Will in a few years time.

“Are you sure Zanzibar would be the best school for Will and Eleanor to go to?”, Sarah asked Dave inquisitively.

“Yes, I’m sure the quality of education is top notch and, most importantly, its free,” Dave replied.

“Does that really matter?”, Sarah asked.

“Yes, it costs £4,000,000 a year to keep our manor is top order, we’d loose £20,000 of that if we sent Will and Eleanor to Beauchamp’s and St Mildred’s,” Dave answered.

“But Dave, you work for Banana and I work for the Guardian, I’m sure we can afford an extra 20K a year if it came to that”, Sarah replied.

“Look, I know Zanzibar has a bad reputation, and its Ofsted results are less than perfect, but I’m pretty sure most of what we hear about it come from snobs,” Dave unconvincingly reassured his wife, “the fact that most of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds doesn’t mean anything, in fact it’s good that they’re getting a chance at life.”

“Well, clearly they’re not considering the algorithm”, Sarah reminded her husband.

“That’s unusual due to the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Dave explained, “I’m sure Eleanor will have just as much a chance to get into Oxford or another Russel Group university there as she would at King’s High.” Sarah looked at Dave for a moment, “hmm, I’m not really so sure.”

Dave and Sarah stared at the sun glistening on the English Channel for a moment, before Sarah broke the silence.

“Anyway, it’s not like Will and Eleanor need to go there, all the other students probably have no other choice due to their background whereas Will and Eleanor live in a 16th Century manor house in England’s most affluent village with a father who works for the world’s second biggest technology company and a mother who works for one of the leading newspapers in the world.”

“Yeah, it’s still free though”, Dave replied.

The sun was beginning to set, Will and Eleanor walked back to their parents.

“Right, I think it’s almost time for our meal with Mum and Dad, let’s go”, Dave announced. And so, Will, Eleanor, Dave, and Sarah walked up the metal steps to where their car is in order to drive back to Eastbourne.

“Dad”, Eleanor asked Dave.

“Yes, Eleanor?”, Dave replied.

“What were you talking to Mum about?,” Eleanor enquired. Dave laughed, “nothing of your concern.”

And with that, the Petersons got into their grey Ford Focus and drove off to Eastbourne for their meal with Dave’s parents.

1 It wasn’t particularly the dodgy lift, unhelpful staff, dirty room, stained mattresses, cob-web covered furniture, or bad wi-fi that was the problem, more the dead body of an Accountant dangling from the ceiling of their room having decided to hang himself following Britain entering the biggest recession in its history that the staff clearly either didn’t know about or didn’t bother to remove him.

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