Theresa May’s old school was ‘a far cry from Eton’, its headteacher says

The next prime minister is an inspiration to pupils at her former school in rural Oxfordshire, says head

Theresa May is an inspiration to the students of her former “very ordinary” secondary school, its headteacher said today.

“It’s a massive source of pride for the students and for all of us, that a former pupil of the school has become so senior. Not just on the national stage, but on the global stage,” said Kate Curtis, head of Wheatley Park School in Holton, Oxfordshire.

“It’s great that somebody from a comprehensive school in rural Oxfordshire can travel so far in the world. It’s a really inspirational message for students here – that they can aspire to the very top of whatever they choose to do.”

Ms Curtis has spoken to the 1,020 students at the school about the next prime minster in assemblies this week. She added that students were today busy writing postcards of congratulations to Ms May – and offering her some advice.

Theresa May is expected to become prime minister later today, after David Cameron – who attended £37,000-a-year Eton College – formally tenders his resignation to the Queen.

‘A very ordinary school’

Ms May won a place at her school, which was then Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School, when she was 13. It became Wheatley Park Comprehensive School during her time there when it merged with the local secondary modern in 1971.

“It should be clear, it was a very ordinary school,” said Ms Curtis. “Nothing fancy. The young people she was educated with would have been whoever lived in the community, it would have included farmer’s children, farm labourer’s children. It has genuinely always been a school for the community.

“It was a grammar school of course…but a very far cry from Eton.”

Despite her brush with comprehensive education, Ms May is believed to be a supporter of grammar schools and she spoke out in favour of the expansion of the Tonbridge-based Weald of Kent Grammar School to Sevenoaks.

By coincidence, Ms May visited Wheatley Park last week to open a garden created by pupils at the John Watson special school, which shares the same campus.

“She was very positive in her memories of being on the site,” said Ms Curtis.

“She talked about life on the school campus and said how lovely it was to be back at Wheatley Park. She took a great interest in the young people. Some of them flung their arms around her and gave her a big hug, which she handled beautifully and very warmly. She made a very good impression on us.”

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