Girls Blazer Badge Boys Blazer Badge

Memories of teaching at Lewes C.G.S. (1962-64)

by David Walker

I David Walker - today came to the school in September 1962 as a raw teacher. In my previous, post- university job I had been employed in the Hertfordshire Museum Service at Letchworth Museum, where, apart from reorganising the natural history section, I ran freshwater biology sessions in local rivers and ponds for one of the local secondary schools. Feeling I had a certain rapport with children, and teachers, I thought I would like to have a go at formal teaching. So after the then headmaster, Mr Fanner, decided I was a fit person to take up the post of assistant biology teacher, I entered on a life-changing, two-year stint, where I apparently impressed the HMI that I was of the right mettle, despite not having the post-graduate qualification in teaching.

I can honestly say that those two years were generally enjoyable, despite the fractious behaviour of a few boys, usually from 5c. When I hear of the experiences of worn-down teacher friends these days, I am grateful I came through unscathed. However, readers may be surprised to hear that one boy did threaten me with a knife!

David Walker - from 1964 panorama I was responsible for teaching general science to all three streams of forms 1, and biology to all streams of forms 2 &3, also to 4b & 4c, 5b& 5c. In addition, I had to keep one step ahead of 4a in chemistry. End of term reports were filled in their hundreds in a smoke-filled staff-room, so it was always difficult to think of an original comment, though I must have coped since several colleagues wondered how I had come up with such an array of comments. Parents' evenings were enjoyable I remember, perhaps because I had 'the gift of the gab'. The school scout group and one summer camp was an equally enjoyable adventure away from the captivity of the classroom, and today I am reminded of those days when I see my own grandsons revelling in the character-building activities of their scout group.

David Walker - in the Cotswolds Probably the most important event in my time at Lewes was when the PE/French master suggested we both go to the local Young Conservatives 'Hop' in the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, where I met my wife to be (been together 46 years), and with whom I watched and photographed badgers on the South Downs with a 1932 Rolleiflex and PF5 flash bulbs, using a spotlight with red filter from a 1946 Ford Prefect car. Now that dates me! Then there was Frank, a real, 6-foot, German assistant at the school, whom I showed round the Cotswolds, and defied the laws of gravity, on the back of my Lambretta scooter.

The day I left Lewes I discovered a well-kept secret, for my leaving present consisted of a half-bottle of Johnny Walker whisky and three cut-glass tumblers, none of which, sadly, have survived those 47 years since their presentation. Unbeknown to me, the name of the brand was obviously my nick-name.

David Walker - today Eventually, I left school teaching and ended up as Deputy Keeper of Natural History at Birmingham Museum and part-time tutor in natural science in the Extramural Dept of Birmingham University, where I was able to combine my love for the wider subject and for putting it over to a much wider range of ages than was the case in school. You can find out more of my exploits on Amazon and WHSmith Online, by putting in 'Hunters of Longtree:A Cotswold Tale'.