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After completing our A levels at school, there was an expectation that all pupils would either be going straight to university or staying on for a third year in the sixth form to retake failed exams. And we couldn't leave until the end of term even though there was no work to do. It was a boring few weeks sitting in the library ("private study") or hanging out in the art room when we were allowed.

A friend of my parents at church had asked what I was going to do and I really wasn't sure. Despite the (very unhelpful) career guidance at school, I had no real idea what people actually did when they went off on a train in the morning to work.

My father used to go off early each morning and arrive home after we were doing our homework (three hours a day which our parents had to sign to say we'd done) until bedtime. But he had died before I started the sixth form and I don't feel I ever got to know him as well as I should.