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Awful memories of attending Pimlico

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I have just read the letter in your publication sent by Glenys Roberts (aj 2.9.99) in respect of the future of Pimlico School and feel driven to make the following comments. Although not connected with the school nowadays, I was one of the original pupils when the school was first opened in the summer of 1970.

At the time, I had already spent three years at a secondary technical school, Ebury, so was half-way through my secondary education.

The transformation of going from a small, 300-pupil, single-sex environment to a mixed-sex, 1800-pupil school was catastrophic. Beside the fact that there were so many other pupils, the fact that the school was created from the amalgamation of four other schools - a comprehensive, two grammar schools and ours - did not help one bit. The teachers from the four original schools all favoured their original pupils to the detriment of the rest.

The building itself was badly laid out, barely finished and, throughout the first couple of years, forever having components replaced.

The publicity before our arrival - which went something like: '... as the most modern school in Europe, designed to be cool in summer and warm in the winter ...' - was seen immediately as being totally false. The layout of the building can be extremely difficult to understand, even after attending there for three years. When you can only access certain parts of the building from certain staircases, or have to go outside to get to some classrooms, one can only wonder at the reasoning of the architect behind the layout.

It is only now, after spending the 26 years since I left in consulting civil and structural engineering, that I fully appreciate some of the design flaws the building has.

When my former schoolmates and I hear people talking about 'that award winning school in Pimlico', we wonder if they have ever had to endure working in such a buildings environment for more than a few hours.

The best news we all heard was when one proposal was to demolish it and rebuild it, preferably in a number of smaller buildings. No-one who went there during the 1970s, as far as we are concerned, would ever harbour nostalgia about the school.

It should be remembered during the reconstruction that the school is for the purpose of pupils learning, not to further the award-winning aspirations of someone who will never have to spend the most important part of their life using the school.

Bob Lye, London SW1

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