Can the school you go to make a massive difference to your life? This is the question that a TV company wanted to answer, so they ran an experiment. They paid for a 14-year-old boy who constantly got into trouble and was thrown out of his South London school to go to an exclusive £15,000 a year boarding school.
The experiment was a second chance for 14-year-old Ryan Bell. He had never had the opportunities that his new classmates at Downside School had. When he was asked if he might have trouble getting used to a ‘smart and posh’ new school, he simply said, “Don’t worry about me looking like a person with no friends, all 14-year-old guys are the same - we like cars and girls! I’m certain I won’t have any problems.”
Ryan’s first year at his new school was a definite success. He was coming top in Latin and got into the rugby team, where he was one of the best. His mother was really proud – she hoped her son would never have the problems with money she had. His father had left them both when Ryan was a baby. His mother had always done her best, but admitted she couldn’t give Ryan the best start in life. Now Ryan started talking about going to university and a possible career as a TV director.
At his old school, Ryan’s teachers used to say he was always causing problems but at his new school Ryan got on very well with the other students. His teachers said he would get through his GCSE exams easily. There were a few small problems, but at first they weren’t considered too serious. The first one was when Ryan returned home for the holidays and was caught doing graffiti. It was bad, but the school blamed his friends at home for encouraging him to do it and said it would be unfair to expect Ryan to ‘transform overnight’. They were less tolerant of the second incident – Ryan took another boy’s mobile phone and even though it was apparently a joke, he was not allowed to attend school for a week.
After returning to the school which he was enjoying being part of, Ryan went into the nearest town one evening with some of his friends. At the local disco he lost his temper and hit another boy in the face. The incident reflected badly on the school’s reputation as the police were called. Because Ryan had already been in trouble and the regulations were the same for everyone, he had to be thrown out of school.
This decision was cruel, though the teachers believed his aggression and wrongdoings were caused by his previous experiences. Everyone agrees that Ryan was doing very well and even though he failed to complete his education at Downside School, he progressed a long way educationally and emotionally.adapted from: Club, Nov/Dec 2003
6.1. The aim of the experiment was to (! help a young boy get out of trouble at school.) (find out if the choice of a school matters.) (! check how good Downside School was.) (! show Ryan what an exclusive school was like.)
6.2. Ryan ( was optimistic about joining the school.) (! was worried about making friends.) (! thought he might have some problems.) (! wanted his mother to be proud of him.)
6.3. Ryan’s mother (! didn’t like the experiment.) (! never had financial problems.) ( offered him the best she could.) (! expected Ryan to go to university.)
6.4. Ryan’s new teachers (! expected him to change at once.) (! didn’t punish him in any way.) (! never tried to justify his manners.) ( blamed his past for his behaviour.)
6.5. At Downside School ( all students have to follow the same rules.) (! some students are treated differently.) (! a few students have too much freedom.) (! students are not allowed to go to discos.)
6.6. The author of the text (! criticises the whole experiment.) (! describes the role of family background.) (! encourages the readers to change school.) ( shows how a school can motivate students.)