I was introduced to a chap last week whose name was Wilf. “That was my headmaster’s name,” I told him.
“It seems,” he said, smiling, “it was everyone’s headmaster’s name – except mine.”
He was an amusing fellow, knocking on a bit – like me; certainly more fun than my old headmaster. The late Wilf had been a pompous, though fair-minded, Cambridge man and head of my old grammar school in Urmston, a suburb of Manchester.
New acquaintance Wilf had lived in neighbouring Salford.
We exchanged some telling thoughts on education, which might teach modern ‘experts’ a thing or two.
My old grammar was the only school I enjoyed, as it was full of atmosphere and tradition with so much new to learn – all of which inspire children. Then, a year later, we boys got moved to a new place, all concrete and glass, and hated it. (We missed the girls too!)
At 16 I stayed on for A-levels, then realised more academic work wasn’t for me just then. Instead I got a job surveying, going to college – Salford Tec’ – on day release and night classes.
That allowed me to earn a wage while studying. In my 20s I fancied a big change and did A-level evening classes for a university place. So did friend Wilf who went, aged 50, to read sciences at what was, by then, Salford University.
Back in our youth there were ‘technical’ secondary schools and part-time college courses, allowing youngsters to work in trade apprenticeships or professions while still learning.
“Then our schools became ‘academies’ and colleges ‘universities’,” observed Wilf, adding shrewdly, “we saw technical equipment taken out, but more couches arriving – for trendy courses like media studies.”
He didn’t know I had become a reporter. Mind you, I qualified part-time while working on the job – the best way in my book.
* For Roy’s own books visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.