I left Quarry Bank Grammar School, in the mid-1960s one of the most sought-after schools in Liverpool, after O levels. I studied by myself over three years for A levels but never got far because of problems.
Each year I applied to universities, using as referee Quarry Bank's headteacher. I was accepted by every single one.
Finally, I took a full-time course at Riversdale College of Technology in Liverpool and started producing real results - at the end of the year I had a mark of 98 per cent in mathematics. I applied to universities using my college tutor as referee. I was rejected by the majority.
In my experience, the school you attend has a great bearing on your university application.
Department of mathematics