|3 Mar 2023
I started at Hymers in September 1982 - the school was certainly very different then to how it is now! My job title was ‘Assistant Master’ and my class was called J1T, which was equivalent to the current Year 4. I would teach everything but Maths and Science, ironically the way things would remain for the next 37 years, until I taught those two subjects for a maternity cover, just before I finally retired.
I replaced the only female member on the Junior School staff when I started in 1982 and so there was just a small group of male teachers at that time. No secretary, no classroom assistants, no deputy head - just nine of us, with the Headmaster. And as the school was all boys at that time, you can imagine it appeared rather an unusual and strange place to be. Having said that, my colleagues David Mitchell, Terry Glenville, Paul Mann, Bernard Worthington, Ian Chapman, John Harston and the much-respected Head, Norman Ransom, were a fantastic group - they were friendly, welcoming and supportive and the boys were bright and enthusiastic. What a place to be to start your teaching career!
Things have certainly changed over the years - in most cases for the better! Of course, the best thing the school ever did was to accept girls and almost overnight, there seemed to be a more normal and civilised feel to the place. I do remember feeling quite surprised, however, to see girls now wearing the Hymers uniform - and lots of ponytails bobbing about!
I have many, very happy memories of my time at Hymers. I loved being part of the annual Year 6 play, at the end of a summer term. Paul Bryan (the then Head of the Junior School) organised some wonderful plays and musicals and he always encouraged the staff to join in. ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ was probably my favourite - I was Potiphar in that! The children loved to see the teachers in costume, making a bit of a fool of themselves but to their credit, they were their normal respectful selves the next day, despite seeing us dressed in weird and wonderful costumes the night before, trying to put on ridiculous voices!
I think one of my favourite things that I can remember about my teaching career was when I taught what I hoped was a really good lesson (probably I remember it so well because it was a rare occurrence). But sometimes everything clicked, the children understood and were enthusiastic, the feedback was great and the subsequent written work was of a high standard. It was quite a buzz when everything went just right!
I think Chris Fitzpatrick completed a Teacher Feature some time ago and he quoted those famous words - what goes on tour, stays on tour - how true! I went on many a school trip over the years I and I really loved them. At first, there were Year 6 residential trips to Durham, Beamish, and Hadrian’s Wall, then Cliff College in the Peak District, and most recently, the Lake District, where the children learned sailing skills, did climbing, abseiling and whizzed through the air on zip wires. So good for confidence building! However, my very favourite school trips were those with the Year 5s, to Normandy. It must have been quite a challenge for many of those nine and ten-year-old children to spend a week away from home in a foreign country, yet I’m sure they gained immensely from the experience. And from another point of view, I loved the chance to relax with my colleagues - lots of fun and laughs!
As the years moved on, I eventually became one of the three ‘Team Leaders’ in the Junior School: responsibility in particular, for Year 4 one year, Year 5 the next, then Year 6, and so on. It meant less contact teaching time and more admin and meetings but I still very much enjoyed this new part of the job.
I think if I hadn’t been a teacher, I would have liked to have been a helicopter pilot! I used to love watching the air-sea rescue helicopters fly along the coast when I was a little boy, growing up in Bridlington - children on the beach always used to wave to the crew as they went by and we usually got one back! Teaching was a family trend though and I suppose it was inevitable that I would end up in the classroom one day.
Since leaving Hymers, I’ve continued to live in Bridlington, enjoying daily walks on the cliffs and beach with Betsy (the Border Collie) and making things from wood - often driftwood found on the sands. I decided to take a little job too - I work one day a week in an Art Gallery in the Old Town area of Bridlington. This has encouraged my interest in art and has also given me a chance to sell some of the things that I make. I am happily retired, indeed, but I still miss everything about Hymers - it, and all my friends there, are very dear to me.
Shark Driftwood made by Andy
Former Senior Master and Head of Mathematics, Geoff Underwood took part in a Teacher Feature in 2001 More...