A birthday week around Canterbury

"My teacher's rubbish," my grand-daughter says on the way to Canterbury. Through the bus window the snow was still thick on the hills. "Doesn't teach us anything. I can honestly say she's the worst teacher I've ever had. I'm worried about my GCSEs." My grand-daughter is almost fifteen, and is a bright, caring human being, but is being let down, as many other kids are, by discrepancies in the education system.

By contrast I ran a Creative Writing workshop in an independent school this week where the children have the best that money can buy and an enthusiastic staff that can offer them a top-notch education and one to one guidance. The kids there are like kids anywhere - giggly, shy, chatty, and vowing they were rubbish at poetry - which of course they were not. As a visiting tutor it was brill for me not to have to work my way around behavioural problems and a too-large classroom. There was also an atmosphere of progress around the school, supported by the international element and the benefit of rubbing shoulders with Tracy from Texas and Su-Ann from Tokyo. (Not their real names of course.) As Granny and a writer I've always tried to help my grand-daughter where and when I can, and this isn't a