Dorothy Arnold’s dismissive letter (February 7) about Princess Mary’s is outrageous. As a pupil of this hallowed establishment from 1966 to 1973 I feel qualified to share some facts with your readers – and before you mount your extremely high horse again, Dorothy, some of this happened before you arrived, so don’t even think about telling me it is “pernicious rubbish”. I was subjected to vicious bullying in my first year. Breaks and lunchtimes were miserable as I was surrounded by a group of jeering, unpleasant little girls. My crimes? Being on the pork side of plump, wearing glasses, having my hair in plaits and, worst of all, having arrived from a local prep school. Obviously I must therefore have been a dreadful snob and needed lessons on humility. As for asking the “kind and caring” staff to intervene, it was pretty obvious how little interest would have been taken. One of them, on lunchtime duty and having a peaceful post-prandial stroll on the netball courts, pipe in hand, glanced over to observe my tormentors, paused momentarily then walked straight past. Impressive. The bullying was not restricted to the girls either. Latin grammar was inflicted on us using methods clearly learned in the Wackford Squeers school of teaching. A piece of coloured chalk would be handed to each trembling girl as she approached the platform in the classroom. If she failed to underline correctly the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative or ablative forms of the words on the board, she was rewarded with a mock throttling which actually hurt. To describe the inept teaching of other subjects would require a far greater word count. I only comment on events I actually experienced. My own career as a teacher of English in Calderdale since 1977 has shown me that staff and pupils experience schools in very different ways, and the language we use to share our opinions can reveal a great deal about our own teaching styles.
Anne Todd (nee Eastwood, aka Ding Dong)