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Friends Reunited 2005 School Report Shows Women Make Better School Friends Than Men

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LONDON, November 29 /PRNewswire/ --

- Friendliest Schools in Britain of 2005 are Announced

The Misbourne School in Buckinghamshire has been named the Friendliest School in Britain 2005 by Friends Reunited.

The website that reunites people with their old school friends has analysed the millions of emails sent between the ex-pupils of more than 22,000 secondary schools in Britain to find out who keeps in touch the most.

Its second annual School Friendship League Tables put Misbourne, the UK's first purpose-built secondary modern in rural England, in first place ahead of Treloar, a special school for disabled children in Alton, Hampshire, and the Barbara Speake stage school in East Acton, London, whose famous ex-pupils include Phil Collins and Naomi Campbell.

Friends Reunited has also revealed for the first time that women appear to make closer, more long-lasting school friends than men.

A new study of Friends Reunited users shows that more than twice as many women than men have a best friend they met at school and, tellingly, men are three times more likely than women to feel that school friends are best left in the past. It's also significant that more women than men feel that their schooldays are the best days of their lives - and thus are perhaps more concerned to hang on to those times through their school friends.

Dr Mark Vernon, a Friends Reunited consultant and author of the book The Philosophy of Friendship, who helped carry out the survey, said: "Perhaps women make more long-lasting school friends because they tend to be more open and empathetic, which the best school friendships require."

"Men, on the other hand, make better friends in the workplace where sociability and conviviality are more important.

"Some sociologists have argued that intimacy in the modern world has been transformed so that men are just as likely to be intimate with other men as women are with other women. But this research suggests that men still have some way to go!"

The survey also reveals that nearly one in 10 people met their partner at school and that 20% of people have later on become friends with someone who they disliked at school.

See below for more survey results

THE 2005 SCHOOL FRIENDSHIP LEAGUE TABLES

With more than 12 million registered users covering more than 22,000 schools, Friends Reunited can give a unique insight into the comparative 'friendliness' of the ex-pupils of every school in Britain. The league tables are formulated by analysing the total number of contact emails sent by the ex-pupils of each school as a proportion of those registered, giving a comparable 'friendliness' rating regardless of the size of school.

The Misbourne School at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, which reaches its 50th anniversary in December (being celebrated on January 21 next year), came out top of the 2005 tables.

Ross Cotter, Deputy Headteacher, said: "We know that the atmosphere of the school is remarked upon by our many visitors and it's great to think that our former students, staff and governors remember it with such warmth. You might put it down to a genuine desire to build strong relationships in the school, to a caring approach, to being focussed on everyone achieving their best. Most of all it is based on a positive approach to all we do - and we look forward to another fifty years of success."

Sheena Doona (39) from the Misbourne class of '85 said: "The school instilled in us as students that being happy was one of the most important things. They encouraged peer friendship and led by example by befriending us. This was a major factor in why we were and are still proud and fortunate to say we were students of The Misbourne. I am still close friends with five girls I went to school with."

In second place is Treloar College in Alton, Hampshire, which has been providing first class education, therapy, medical support and training in independence for young people with physical disabilities for the past 100 years.

Actress Julie Fernandez, who was in series two of The Office on television, is an ex pupil. She said: "With my broadcasting career taking me to the USA at the moment, Friends Reunited is the ideal way to keep in touch."

School Principal Dr Graham Jowett said: "The College has received a number of awards recently for quite official things like our Ofsted inspection or special projects, so it was particularly special to learn of something totally related to our students themselves."

Commenting on the school's position in the table, he adds: "All our students are IT-literate and aware of the potential of the Internet by the time they leave us. We also put a lot of effort into making sure they enjoy being here so that they will look back on their time at college and the friendships they make with an enormous amount of pleasure. Although we are a very small specialised college, with only about 60 leavers each year, our students come from all over Britain which makes Friends Reunited the ideal way to make contact."

The Barbara Speake Stage School, in third place with the accolade of Friendliest School in London 2005, was founded more than 50 years ago in London's East Acton by Barbara Speake as a teenager just out of ballet school. She is still headmistress.

Barbara Speake said: "Consistency is key to a friendly school. I've been here since the beginning and I think former students like to see the same faces when they come back to visit. The students here are happy because they are doing something they love and making a success of it."

Famous alumni include the actor Jack Wilde, comedian Brian Conley, model Naomi Campbell, entertainer and presenter Keith Chegwin and, most famously, rock star Phil Collins.

Contemporary of Phil Collins, Peter Newton (55), began at the school in 1966. He said: "My classmates and I had failed to find a footing in the mainstream schools, so when Barbara opened her doors, and we walked in, we just knew we belonged there. It was and always has been a very close-knit and supportive place."

THE FRIENDS REUNITED 2005 SCHOOL REPORT

Nearly 6,000 members from aged 16 upwards had their say on the big questions about school in a survey carried out through the Friend Reunited site. The results send out an encouraging message to anyone who is at school at the moment.

Schoolwork often seems to be completely irrelevant to what's going on in the real world and a total waste of time. But a resounding 84% of ex-pupils said school is either important or very important in the way your life turns out.

And the good news is that those teachers who say you're going to end up on the scrapheap are more often wrong than right. Nearly one in three (29 per cent) said they'd turned out more successful than their teachers predicted and only seven per cent had done less well. For 56 per cent, success in life mirrored their performance at school.

Despite the emphasis on doing well at school, 60 per cent of the Friends Reunited users insisted that teaching should be foremost about inspiring pupils. The other 40 per cent thought that teaching facts and figures is more important.

But in the end the most important thing about school seems to be making friends. More than half (52 per cent) said making friends was the best thing about school, 28 per cent said 'what you learn' - and only 20 per cent said the best thing about school was 'leaving'.

Notes to Editors:

About School Friendship League Tables 2005

The School Friendship League Tables have been formulated by analysing data from the Friends Reunited website to give each school a 'friendliness' rating. This is determined by the average number of emails sent by each ex-pupil to their classmates and the average number of pupils who send messages. Friends Reunited has looked only at the number of messages sent, not at the contents, which remain confidential. Only people who actively use the site to correspond with other members are taken into account. Visits by those who are 'just looking' to see who from their school is registered are not included.

For the full top 200 table please visit www.friendsreunited.co.uk or call the Press Office on +44-(0)1883-717468

ABOUT FRIENDS REUNITED

Friends Reunited was launched in July 2000 as a back bedroom hobby. A combination of word of mouth and immense media attention has propelled the site to phenomenon status, expanding beyond the school friends proposition to include workplaces, teams/clubs and streets. Friends Reunited has touched many thousands of lives, reuniting friends and family around the globe.

12 million people registered (about half of all UK households with internet access)

5,000 new members registered on average per day (more than enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall every day)

4,500 years have been spent looking at the site by the UK public (if you started reading when the Pyramids were built, you'd just be finishing now)

6.5 billion pages of the website have been looked at in total (that's the same as reading 4.2 million copies of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy)

Friends Reunited can be found at www.friendsreunited.co.uk

SOURCE Friends Reunited Limited



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