At the beginning of the 70s I left Wales, and the Holyhead County Secondary, to return to Hull where I took a part-time job in an all- girl Junior High (ages 10 – 13). The school served the working class, fishing community; the every same area in which I was born and nurtured. I also chose to live again in that area
But I also met many who were ‘disadvantaged’ in a variety of ways. Wanting to know how I could best help, I consulted my College notes. Lots of information on philosophy, psychology and theory of teaching but only a paragraph mentioned children with learning difficulties. Consulted local training college and university and found a one year full time course which led to a Diploma in the Education of Handicapped Children. I applied, was accepted, given a year’s sabbatical and the course fees were paid by the L.E.A. It was a very intensive course, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. lectures, lots of reading, long essays, special studies and final exams. We visited a variety of ‘Special’ places of education. Rampton was particularly of note, as was five weeks at Castle Howard Approved School and later working with the children of travellers. The visit to their site was most illuminating. Geese were used as guard dogs so I was marooned in my car until they were herded away. I could only speak to the women as I was a woman…
There were 24 mature students from all parts of the UK. Plus Betsy Chau from Hong Kong. She had to register as an ‘alien’ with the police as she had a Chinese passport. I was pleased I’d gone with her as the policeman dealing with her was less than polite. Betsy was fascinated by our fireworks. Strange we thought, as surely the Chinese invented them. Betsy told us they didn’t have the colours or variety of performance ours had. We had to get a special permit so she could take some home – in a tin box. Try doing that today!
All in all, an enjoyable year, especially the social part!
Submitted by Mary Irvine, 74, Alexandria