City Grammar School - THEN and NOW Pages

Peter Clark


I was most interested to read the Analysis of Streaming and Examination
Results for Sheffield City Grammar School.

Both myself and my twin brother were placed in Form 1R when we joined the school in 1950.  We are two of the people the article refers to, and both of us went on to gain 9 O-Levels each in 1955.  I only got a place at the Grammar School on the coat-tails of my twin brother since I was going blind, and underwent 8 internal eye operations in my younger school days, and so I missed a great deal of time from Junior School.  But the operations did allow me to fully recover my sight.  Thank goodness for the newly-formed National Health Service for without it there would have been no operations and no Grammar School place for me.  I could not even do 'joined-up' writing when I first started at Sheffield City Grammar School.  We are not identical twins, far from it, but never the less the authorities decided that it would be unfair to let one go to Grammar School and not the other.  Hence my great good fortune!!

I had not realised that we were ever a part of any social experiment which the Analysis appears to suggest.

We both obtained 3 good A-levels and went on to different universities and graduated.  I had been studying Geology at Sheffield University at nights whilst I was still a Grammar School pupil.  I had the great good fortune to have been selected to go on an Expedition to Arctic Finland as the Expedition's geologist on the day after I left the Grammar School.  And later that year I went to Imperial College in London and studied geology.  For the next ten years I was an academic geologist in London University, travelling and having the opportunity to do research in Switzerland, the Arctic, the Amazon, and the Sahara.  I made and sold a number of films to the BBC.  In time I became a BBC TV and Radio Educational Producer, and went on to develop audio-visual teaching
method with the Open University, and to make the Earth Sciences programmes for the Open University.  I had made Scientific Films all over Britain, and in the Arctic, and in the Sahara, and I made a most interesting programme in California with the last man to stand on the Moon, Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, who was the Lunar Module Pilot, and the only scientist to go to the Moon, and who like myself was a geologist.  I made several other films about the formation of impact
craters on the Moon and also about the Viking Missions to Mars, the disappearance of the dinosaurs, and a prize-winning film on the Geology of the Isle of Skye.

After the BBC I went to Saudi Arabia as a Visiting Professor of Film, Television and Radio in Jeddah, where one of the students happened to be none other than Osama Bin Laden.  I was in Saudi when the Princess and her lover were publicly and cruelly executed, and I secretly gathered all the information that I could, and wrote it up as "Death of a Princess", which I smuggled out of the country though in considerable fear and danger.  I handed all of the relevant information I had
gleaned to Amnesty International, and I have since chaired Amnesty meetings at the London School of Economics on the terrible treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.

The sheer barbarity of what had happened caused me to make a radical seed change in my life.  Like the Princess I was also the victim of a cruel and dysfunctional family, and I felt that it was time that I should try and make sense of what had happened to me in my own family and all the abuse that had gone on throughout my childhood.  I soon became involved in Humanistic Psychology and what some people call the 'Growth Movement'.  After returning to England I went back to University and re-trained to be a Facilitator, Group Leader, Counsellor and Psycho-Therapist, and I gained a Post Graduate Qualification in Humanistic Psychology.  I have since taught Counselling Skills to several thousand people in Colleges, Universities, Hospitals and Night School courses in London, and many other places in Britain.  Two of my counselling students were great grand-daughters of Sigmund Freud.

I am now retired, but I am kept busy as a genealogist and family historian, and in running a research group that is documenting the Life and Times of the British Prisoners of Napoleon, 1803-1814.  As a hobby for the past twenty years I have been collecting Historical Documents.
I own original letters written by Nelson, Wellington, Napoleon, Queen Victoria, etc., and have others that refer directly to Queen Elizabeth the First, the Regicides and Charles the First, Oliver Cromwell, Florence Nightingale, and amazingly I actually own the original Accounts for the Tower of London dated 1634 among many other historical documents.  I would just love to be back at school and produce them from out of my desk at the moment that my beloved former history
teachers talk about that particular historical subject.  Would that not be fun!!

We were certainly privileged to have had a Grammar School education, but I never personally believed all that much in the value or even scientific reliability of IQ Tests.  We should remember that Winston Churchill would never have passed to go to Grammar School!   Even as a schoolboy I was sceptical of a society that made fish of some and fowl of others.  I am strongly committed to the idea of the greatest possible opportunity for all.  And that is why I am so proud of having
helped to develop the Open University which continues to give opportunity to all who seek Higher Education.

I am still learning French, and I have been invited by the Mayor of Verdun to give an illustrated lecture in France next month on the British Prisoners of War who were living on parole in Verdun during the period of the Napoleon Wars.  I have just discovered that during that time there was an illegitimate baby born in the town from the liaison of an English détenu Doctor, one Dr. Thomas Clark, and a local Verdunoise girl.  The child was registered with the name Peter Clark.  The Festival de I'Histoire has organised a gathering of descendants, and invited me to address them.  I would love to be able to track down this Anglo-French boy's descendants in France.  Now I think that is going to be a challenge!

Omnes Amici,

Peter Clark
05 August 2005

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