While Spender's talents as a poet and author bloomed at prewar Oxford in the company of W.H.Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNeice, he reliably failed to pass any exams. It seems he was simply ambivalent about having his sizeable intellect measured, as he wrote to his grandmother, when he was finally sent down: “It is no use, I am most awfully sorry, but I cannot do examinations; and Schools I never really had any ambition to do properly ... I only care really for poetry and writing.”
I only met Stephen Spender once and we chatted only briefly, but he left an indelible impression of being both intelligent and kind. This brings that impression to life.
See also: `Such Books of Rubbish on Which Children Waste Their Time'.
(Hat tip to Dave Lull for both links.)