How I Became a Biochemist Barry Halliwell Department of Biochemistry, National University of Singapore THE WANDERINGS OF A FREE RADICAL I was born on October 18, 1949 in Preston, a small textile town in the North of England, famous then for its football club but not for anything else. Luckily for me, it did have an excellent grammar school. In England at the time, children in their last years at primary school took a tough exam, the âeleven plusâ. Those who failed went to secondary modern schools, the 10% or so who passed went to academically-superior local grammar schools. Despite the obvious problems, the system had one great advantage â it provided an avenue for upward mobility for working-class children from poor homes. Naturally, the 90% of parents whose kids did not make it complained all the time, and the system was condemned as elitist and eventually abolished by the Labour government, who have a long history of damaging educational quality in the UK. They replaced it by a âcomprehensive systemâ, i.e. if you lived in a poor area, you went to a lousy school and were condemned to learn little. Luckily, I passed (just about I suspect).
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