Worship was planned and led by St. Andrew’s Worship Group. Members of the congregation who had taught in primary, secondary and further education gave examples of pupil or student progress which had made their careers particularly rewarding.
In his address The Revd. Robert Beard expounded on the different translations of the Deuteronomy reading as seen in the gospels. We are to love God with every aspect of our being.
Rejoice and Sing 99 Morning glory, starlit sky
Rejoice and Sing 321 Your words to me are life and health
O holy Wisdom (specially written for the service by Robert Beard)
Rejoice and Sing 532 Lord of creation, to you be all praise
Rejoice and Sing 651 O God, by whose almighty plan
Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 1 – 9
Matthew chapter 22 verses 34 – 40
Psalm 119 verses 33 – 40
Addresses for education Sunday
My first teaching appointment was as the Teacher of Lower Juniors in Speen/Stockcross Church of England Parochial Primary School, near Newbury in Berkshire, back in January 1979. There were only 72 children at the school, divided into one Infant, one Lower Junior and one Upper Junior class. Though I was trained as a Middle School Music Specialist, my first post did not include general music teaching at all. I did manage to squeeze £100 out of the local authority to buy some brass instruments and purchased three second-hand trumpets to start my first band! I had to teach the pupils myself because wind and brass lessons were only offered to pupils in secondary education. Most of my time was spent preparing general subjects for my own class. I remember two amazing occurrences which happened in Science and Art respectively. First, there was a girl called Susan who was a complete scatterbrain and couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a minute or two. One day she had accidentally spilt some ink (remember ink?!!) and had dropped a broken piece of blackboard chalk into the pool and been fascinated by the fact that the chalk had absorbed the ink and turned blue. She was afraid that she might be in trouble for both the spillage and the fact that she had been playing with my chalk (!), but I was delighted with her discovery and explained that some materials absorbed liquids and others did not. After this incident, I did not see much of Susan for a couple of weeks, during which she had created a complete project, expertly presented in a file displaying all the materials she had experimented upon with a complete record of all the experiments she had carried out, complete with ‘before and after’ examples and lots of scientific and mathematical tables. Susan was inspired and thereafter a model student – it was amazing!
Another incident occurred in about week three of the Art lessons. I had purchased only five colours of powder paint for the children to work with: red, blue, yellow, black and white. In weeks one and two we had learned how to handle the brushes and paints, and then how to mix the available colours to create a complete palette of colours which would have impressed even the experts at Dulux! Before the art lessons had started I had asked the children to bring in any used newspapers from home, which we could spread out to protect our classroom tables from getting messed up. In week three, I had set half the pupils a free art task whilst I taught the other half of the class a structured maths lesson. After working diligently for almost an hour, three of the art boys brought me their amazing work. Having spread out their newspapers to protect the table, they had come across Page 3 of The Sun, and had decided to give the scantily-dressed model a semblance of decency by designing and painting upon her former natural tones a stunning new outfit, fit to grace the glossiest of fashion magazines! After this, I was more careful to vet the newspapers in advance.
After four terms, I was approached by the deputy head of a secondary school in Wokingham, much closer to home, who had taught my younger brother and sister Geography and knew of my local musical reputation, letting me know that there was a post of Assistant Head of Music at his school and had heard that I was looking for a job. Well, I wasn’t, really, but thought I would have a look at it. I was subsequently appointed to the post, but regretted it almost immediately to the extent that I asked if I could resign after only a half-term. The main problem was that I felt completely out-of-control of the tutor group of vagabonds and hooligans I had been put in charge of, but the headmaster said that he was very sorry and that he couldn’t support a move elsewhere after such a short time. However, in the Music department, the following September, wonderful things began to happen. At the same time, I was given a new first-year form, 1J, to look after, who were quite lovely and who had music timetabled for the last two periods on a Friday afternoon. At the same time, I auditioned every new first-year for a place in the choir and the following Thursday lunchtime 120 children turned up to choir practice! Music was taught in a double terrapin, so the Head of Music and myself took 60 each in adjacent rooms. Amazingly, about 60 of the singers were still in the choir at the end of the academic year. They included nearly every member of my own form.
Well, 1J became 2J the following year and 3J the year after. The Head of Music had moved to be Head of Music at Royston Comprehensive School in Cambridgeshire and I was promoted to Scale 2 with responsibility for Practical Music until a new Head of Music was appointed. This also involved running the staff and parents’ choir which met every other Monday evening. After a while, I decided to combine the school choir, still over sixty strong and still containing most of my form, with the adult choir, and taught them a couple of good hymns, the anthem ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ by Stanford, a set of responses and a new setting of Psalm 107 to plainsong tones with a double fauxbourdon which I specially composed for them. We then all went on a coach trip to our nearest ‘big church’ to sing Choral Evensong. It was a most memorable occasion for everyone, but especially me, as the big church in question was The Queen’s Free Chapel of St George, Windsor Castle. This was indeed one of those ‘light-bulb’ moments, or might it have been candlepowered?
As most of you know. I taught reception children for 26 years and then did supply with Years 1 and 2 on occasions for the next 8 years the early morning phone call was the summons!
I think the church I went to at home in Scotland was the reason I thought about teaching. I went to help at the afternoon Sunday School as all the older teenagers did. After singing a few songs we broke up into groups and I seemed always to get the liveliest boys. Although I did ENG, MATHS, CHEM AND PHYSICS for my Highers I ended up teaching 4 year old boys. After my Highers it was found I had sky high blood pressure and spent much of my 6th form in hospital getting this sorted out so could not contemplate university.
I loved working with the 4/5 year old age group although they did not spare your feelings. One day when I turned up in bare feet and sandals I saw one little boy looking at my feet . He looked at me and said your feet are rather nasty aren’t they Mrs Dunstan. He was right as I had suffered from bad chilblains as a child. Another time on supply my bus pass fell out of my bag and a boy picked it up looked at the pass, looked at me and said you don’t look like this any more! They don’t mean to be rude it just comes out.
A recent happy moment was when I saw on the school website that a very nervous boy had achieved very good grades to do medicine. Actually his mother was worse – she phoned the school every morning for some trivial reason and appeared at the gates at lunch time. He soon settled in and his Mother calmed down and was a delightful parent.
I was very pleased when a governor Mary Mc Kinnon came to thank me when her son Duncan got into Cambridge her words were – good beginnings Sheila.
My most moving moment was when at the end of the school year the mothers had organised an embroidery which said Time isn’t measured by the years you live but the deeds you d o and the joy you give. My eyes were very moist when I thanked them.
As the other teachers have related, teaching can be a very rewarding profession to follow. It can be rewarding for the teacher when a class achieves outstanding results in external examinations, or when individual students flourish during the course and exceed your and their own expectations at the end of the year, find the job they want or even an unexpected career opening. It can also be the lecturer who derives the reward when students share their knowledge and passions with their teacher. Learning is a two way process.
One particularly satisfying story for me dates from the 1970s, long before Hallam became a university or even a polytechnic. Our students at that time were very local and came mainly from Sheffield and the surrounding area.
In modern languages we did a lot of service teaching, which means you teach your subject to students from other departments, such as chemistry, engineering or metallurgy. This was their general studies module and generally one they would not have chosen themselves, so the teacher had to work harder to engage their interest and make the course relevant.
One such group I taught German to was HND electronics. As I recall, several students were sponsored by the National Coal Board as apprentices of promise. As the year progressed two of the lads approached me to ask how they could get to Germany. (This was long before the days of the big European exchanges like the Erasmus programme and study abroad was usually only undertaken by post graduates or language students). I suggested they approach the British Council for a travel grant and also some of the major German companies for visits. I gave them contacts we had with the big steel producers.
They were fortunate to be awarded a grant to cover travel and Krupps offered them a programme of industrial visits. When they arrived there, they found that the company had arranged travel and meals for them, so that they were able to save their travel grants for more trips around Germany. They came back to college in autumn, greatly enthused with what they had seen and learnt. It was very rewarding for the students. It was a great source of satisfaction to me.