TEACHING AT THE “TECH”.
(1962 TO 1970)
While employed as a Work Study Engineer at Pilkington Brothers at Queenborough and teaching Technical Drawing and Mathematics in the Evening Classes at the Tech the Headmaster Mr.Barnet came into my classroom to ask me if I was interested in becoming a full time teacher.
After discussing this with my wife and thinking very hard about this for a week or two I agreed to becoming a teacher. The Head said that he would put an advert in the Times Educational Supplement and I was to apply.Two weeks later he came into my classroom very disappointed and said “You did not apply then?”
I said I didn’t see the advert so he grabbed my arm ,took me to his office ,sat me in his chair opened up the paper at the advert which said “ Teacher wanted at Sheerness Tech with experience of Bridge Building, Aeronautical Engineering and Shipbuilding “ I laughed and said I can’t do any of those” he laughed and said probably no one else can .Needless to say I was the only applicant and I was appointed.
The other Teachers were Mr.Kitcatt , Jim Hutley , Charles Duddle , Bill Ralph ,Tony Cleneghan , Les Bryant , Alan Sayer , Chris Sears , L.G. (Algy) Welland , Arthur Castle , John Mullett , Trevor Costain , John Bertram , Owen Ryder , Brian Palmer , John Thompson , L .Lisgarden , and Jake Jackson.
Very soon I was in charge of various after-school activities , the Stamp Club ,the Coin Club, the Astronmy Club and the Photograhic Club And the boys would always put on a very good show at Parents evening. Brian Palmer was in charge of the Scouts and one day he asked me to help with a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme he was running over the weekend .It was at Brighton and Brian would give the team the co ordinates in the morning to hike and meet us (always near a pub !) early evening .They would cook all our food also ,under strict supervision of course . One of the days we arranged a meet at the top of Devils Dyke and when we arrived at the top we heard very loud music and saw this fairground hurley gurdy with ladies in very highly coloured Victorian dresses on the horses going round and round and up and down it was a very unexpected and very pretty sight ,we were in the middle of the filming of “Oh! What a lovely war “ we watched this for some time and then over the brow of the hill appeared our boys.The director shouted out “Stop filming” and they all tried to move the boys out of range of the cameras ,but as we waved to the boys to move out the way ,they thought we were waving and so just waved back and continued walking. I saw the film later but our boys had been edited out .(large grin!)
I was employed to teach Metalwork ,Woodwork and Technical Drawing and the only compulsory subject for all teachers- Religious Knowledge- but after one year I was moved to the Mathematics Department. When Mr. Barnett joined the school he instructed the Deputy Head to enter all the “A” form and some of the “B” form for the “O “level examinations instead of the usual ten or so each year. The previous Head ”was a very good head “ (as he seldom left his office) but over the years eventually all the staff worked with the head and the results were very good. A good number of Sittingbourne parents sent their children to the Tech
Many old pupils still remember the rivalry between Borden Grammar School (B.G.S. or baby girls school as we knew it by ) and the Tech , especially at Queenborough Railway Station when the two trains were side by side for a few minutes .War was declared and hats, homework and bags were used as weapons against the
other school ,Homework and hats were often lost on the railway tracks, it was used as an acceptable excuse by some of the teachers
When the Island Schools were going comprehensive in 1970 I suggested to Mr.Barnett in 1969 that the sixth form girls from the Girls Tech should join us to enable me to coordinate their studies for soon they would be in the same class at Sheppey Comprehensive Mr. Barnett spluttered and said NO !!. he later relented and thinking of the girls education said he did not want Mrs. Greystone the girls Headmistress anywhere near his school (they did not appreciate each others company) but I could teach them in the old Broadway School which was the Tech’s annexe. After the initial showing off and giggles they all settled down very well and when we started at the Comprehensive school in mixed classes there were no embarrassing moments as they were all friends together.
Mr.Barnett saw me one day and asked if I would take young Shoesmith under my wing and teach him Astronomy when I queried this the Headmaster said “You were in the Merchant Service ,weren’t you “ so who could refuse . I thought perhaps other lads might be interested and we formed a little class of ten.
,I kept one or two lessons in front of the boys who worked very hard and therefore most passed the O level .We had a magazine ,in colour, which we all contributed to . Shoesmith’s father often took him to America to see the space craft take off etc and later he had a spot on Radio Kent which he was very proud of talking about spaceflight and the planets etc.
Brian Martin and Jonathan Frier were in the Stamp club and were very enthusiastic .They both joined the Postmark Club of Great Britain ,a very select group of stamp collectors of a limited number and formed their own Company selling Postmarks ,I was one of the Directors just to fill up the letter head on their notepaper.
One evening I introduced these two 15 year old lads to Sittingbourne Philatelic Society much to the amazement of a couple of members who had actually dealt with the lad’s Company and purchased some of their Postmarks.They were amazed that they had been dealing with school boys.
Mr.Alfred T Sears the Chairman of the Governers was always pleased to help the clubs ,always giving us stamps and coins and he was a regular attender to our meetings.
The camera club was a great success at least one boy took it up professionally.
The dark room was a little room built in a corner of a classroom. We wrote to Kodak and to Ilfords and had a continous supply of free photographic paper and chemicals from them and we tested new papers etc for them .These Companies were very helpful to the school.
Brian Palmer and company built a sailing dingy and all of the school turned out to watch the launch by the Sea view Hotel with the Headmaster Mr.Barnett conducting the school band as it played “ For those in peril on the sea “ (Was that the tune played as the Titanic went down we all asked ourselves ???)
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