Shirley Francis 1948-1952
I had been an evacuee from Sheffield and attended so many schools which had closed down in my primary education because the teachers had been 'called up', I was practically illiterate. I was given the IQ Test by the Head Master and scraped in.
I well remember missing the bus from Seaton on the day we had our 'O'Level cookery exam. It was the first year of 'O' Levels. I had to walk all the way from Trevelyan Road, Seaton, to school carrying all the crockery, cutlery and table linen for a lunch in some hurry. I was really very worried that Miss Goat would be truly furious if I was late - it obviously didn't matter whether I was nervous about the examination itself! Somewhat ambitiously I had chosen to make lemon meringue pie for dessert and the meringue wouldn't fluff up with a knife! The lady examiner hoveredover me writing, as I frantically tried. It had worked perfectly in the lesson the week before!
Perhaps the most important experience for the whole of CGS was when Mr Geoffrey Standing came from Bristol Grammar School and dragged the whole school into the 20th Century, tightening up discipline and giving us a feeling of pride in our school. To this day I boast to many friends of the excellent place that MY SCHOOL occupies in the examination league tables.My career after I left CGS was helped greatly by Mr Standing, who encouraged me to apply for a grant and trained at The Rose Bruford Training College in Sidcup. This would include training not only in theatre but in teaching History, English and Education.
I did some crowd work for Joan Littlewood at Bromley Theatre, but soon realised I could not live on these earnings, and not having a father by this time I had to look for teaching work. This came along in the shape of Maidstone Technical School for Girls, run by a very strong-minded Headmistress who expected perfection from her 'Gels' in manners as well as work results.
My husband and I set up Kent Gliding Club and, after a while, entered the National Championships which we won.
I taught English in a brand new Secondary School in Maidstone. I became interested in bright children with special needs and went on to form a Special Needs department. Whilst all this was happening I was elected to the Tonbridge and Malling council. I served for 31 years - a Court Chairman and an assessor of future Chairmen.
I hope that your new school intake, when they arrive, realise just how lucky they are to be there.