After a few different jobs that didn’t completely give job satisfaction, I began to realise during my last job (residential social worker), that working with kids was what I enjoyed most in life. I was already running, boys clubs, youth clubs, football teams, so I decided that teaching would be the path for me.
Leaving a good job with pay that had just been increased to a decent level, to become a student on a bursary of around £820, may have seemed completely insane, but that’s what I did. To supplement my income I took a part time job at a pub in Broughton Street, Edinburgh that catered for local worthies. It was not the most exciting of places, but fortunately I got a job in the Nite Club bar, (part of the Playhouse at the time), and that was fantastic. There were live bands every week of various musical genres, from the punk music of ‘The Dead Kennedys’ to the new wave sounds of ‘Simple Minds’.
I went to Stevenson College for a year to do general subjects that I missed having left school earlier than I wanted to, which is another story. I had hoped to go to Callendar Park Teacher Training College, and had been on a pre-visit. Unfortunately I failed to achieve an Art Higher (a strong subject of mine) and I hadn’t factored in backup subjects so had to look at alternative ideas.
After much research I discovered Tesside College in Middlesbrough, Cleveland. I applied and was accepted on their degree teaching course. My plan was to go down, qualify and come straight back to Scotland, but by that time jobs were scarce so my best hope was where I had built up school connections in Cleveland.
At first there was no hope, too many people, not enough jobs. I wasn’t going to let that stop me, so I wrote to the chief Education officer, who replied saying there were no jobs available. However next day, I got a job offer from the headteacher of The Avenue Primary in Middlesbrough. A school the Chief Education Officer had direct responsibility for, so it seemed like my letter paid off.
My first class there was of only 15 lovely pupils. They were so incredibly responsive and it was like being in education heaven. There were 11 girls and 4 boys and it was a Primary 5 group. Their usual teacher was on maternity leave, so I had them for the year till summer. We had such a great time in our classroom activities and visits and with all the things we engaged with, and some of these are seen in the photos.
We had to do a class assembly and ours was based on Native American Indians, but it was a very stereo typical cowboys and Indians piece, but we did research traditional Indian rituals and dances as we dressed up in buffalo head dress and performed a dance round a totem. One of the songs we sang as part of the plot was ‘Three Wheels on My Wagon’ by Lee Marvin. The kids all seemed to enjoy the occasion.
One of the class visits we made was to the sewage works, which coincided with our topic on The Water Cycle, and another trip was end of session on the Grosmont to Pickering Railway.