A teacher's perspective

Moulsecomb School
Photo by Paul Clarkson

Teaching 1961/1963

I would like to offer a quite different slant on Moulsecoomb Boys’ School from that expressed by several of the contributors. I taught English at the school from Easter 1961 until the end of the summer term in 1963. What struck me most forcibly at the time was the apparent lack of expectation about the pupils’ future among some staff which had certainly communicated itself to many of the boys.

Look clean and tidy

I recall a teacher announcing quite seriously in assembly that all they needed to do was to look clean and tidy and then learn to read enough to do their pools, and check the figures in their pay packets. If they could master those modest skills, they would be all right, he said. Fortunately many staff did not hold with that outrageously narrow viewpoint.

A first for Moulsecomb

What I can say is that in my time, book borrowing from the dismal little library increased, and the introduction of Pitman’s English examinations. Remember, no one took any external examinations until then and these did much to boost the boys’ attitude to the subject. In the term I left two fourth-year boys – Morton and Russell – were entered for GCE O level in English and both passed – a first, I should say, for the school.

Did you attend this school? Do you remember Mr Johnson? Share your memories by posting a comment below

Examination successes

Other pupils went in for the now defunct UEI examinations and gained some success. It was about this time that two or three girls from the girls’ school joined the English classes. Whilst all was not perfect – far from it – I cannot accept that the school was dormant in this period. And yes, we did use the cane; and we were often too handy with our hands. I suppose that the last traces of Victorian England were apparent in the way we went about our tasks.

Remembering the boys

Yet I recall good relationships with many boys – if only I could recall all of their names. I certainly remember with some clarity several of those I taught. I hope that some of those coming up to 70 year olds will look back on their days at the school as a not totally negative experience. I send my good wishes to those I remember only as faces and those whose names are with me still.



Comments about this page

  • How interesting it was to read the comments of Mr Johnson, my ex-English teacher at Moulsecoomb Boys School. I attended the school from 1959 to 1963, in 1962 I was in Mr Johnson’s class, he was my form teacher and English teacher.  He was an excellent teacher but could be strict when required – but overall it was an enjoyable year and a pleasure to be in his class.  Mr Johnson also ran the school cricket team of which I was a team member. If my memory serves me right I can still see him now sitting on the cricket field smoking a cigarette while taking the after school cricket practice.  A great year with happy memories of an influential teacher.

    By John Sharp (15/07/2016)
  • I too remember Mr Johnson at Moulsecoomb School. He got me into reading books, a thing I still do a lot of, although he said I could not run because I had long hair. In fact I was one of the fastest runners in the school!

    By Kenneth Chick (15/07/2016)
  • Nowadays it’s the ability to check a lottery ticket that counts and, judging by the quality of staff in various industries and commercial outlets, not to mention government departments, things haven’t improved that much over the intervening years, if at all! Which probably explains why large numbers of young people from abroad are required to fill vacancies in the UK.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (16/07/2016)
  • I went to Moulsecoomb in those years as well (1960-1964).  I remember most of the teachers used the cane for the smallest of reasons.  I remember Mr Johnson was one of my teachers,  fair but strict and I admit I was not the best student.  So I would like to offer my side to Mr Johnson’s story and agree with what he said. There seemed to be no encouragement at all for students, the metal work teacher, at this time, also tried to find a job for pupils when leaving school. In 1963 I went to see this teacher and advised him I would like to become an electrician. His very words were “Don’t be ridiculous, your grades are nowhere near good enough, so pick something else”. I found myself a job with a five year apprenticeship as an electrician and at the age of 21 I become a fully qualified licensed electrician. Not content with that I emigrated to Australia in 1973 with my wife and two children and set up my own business. I  worked  for over 30 years and now I am retired with a 30 acre property and a six bedroom house and am very happy.  Just think what I could have done with some encouragement. I also remember a Ken Chick, if this is the same Kenneth Chick that has responded to your comments. From memory the last time I saw him he was hod carrying for a plasterer at Albion Hill Flats in 1964, where I was working at the time.

    By Paul Cager (06/08/2016)
  • In reply to your question Paul, that was me. I worked with the plasterers for a few months to get enough money together to buy a scooter. This was the time of the mods. I then took a apprenticeship to be a mastic asphalter and held that job for over 50 years raising a family and buying my own property.

    By Kenneth Chick (06/08/2016)
  • Johnny Sharp, hi hope you’re well. I  used to watch you bowling up the side of your house from our house in the banjo, they were great days mate. And you used to play football with my brother Mike on the green, with bamboo carpet canes as goalposts from Mike, or jumpers when he wasn’t about.

    By Roger Heath (01/03/2018)
  • What about Moulsecombe Girls School? Any comments?

    By Celia Page (12/07/2020)
  • I too was a pupil in Mr Johnsons 3A and 4A classes, the above subscribers were my classmates, my cousin Brian Coleman was in the same class, I was one of the first six, 5th year pupils at the school,when I left I worked for a Hove Solicitors, where I attended Law School. I managed to retire at the age of 43. I would love to meet you all again. even Mr Johnson who knocked me all around the library and tore my books up for copying my cousins homework a valuable lesson. such Happy days! I am on Facebook if any one wants to contact me.

    By michael coleman (24/12/2022)
  • I would love to talk to Mr Johnson if possible, just to say thank you for putting me on the straight and narrow, thinking now, it was the big turning point in my life. He taught me a love of books and learning, a big thank you SIR!

    By michael coleman (25/12/2022)

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