CHECKETTS, Bob

bob-ckeckettsNostalgia reigns, pieces of paper, old photographs are appearing from many odd corners…. So here goes, some history you may find interesting.

I joined the staff of College Road on 1st Sept 1954. We were in the building later occupied by Springfield Junior School. The new school was being built on the Camp Hill playing field. One of my class monitors at that time was Anne Dyer. Early ’55 half the school moved into partly finished new building and September ’55 saw all the school on that site.

Interesting to note that when I joined Moseley, teachers in this sector were trained to “teach” and we were expected to tackle any subject so that in the main a form teacher taught the class in all subjects. During my career there are not many subject that I have not covered at some time (Music/PE/languages avoided!)

Early on in the new building it became obvious that, for boys in particular, there were not enough craft (woodwork/metalwork) workshops or staff to cope. Safety considerations meant that a full size class could not be accommodated.

Miss Cohen very skillfully guided a conversation about my home life, family, house and garden to her vision of having a piece of land at the side of the old Camp Hill sports pavilion laid out as a typical local back garden”. gardening could be added to the list of ‘crafts’.

All very well but in inclement weather there were no empty rooms available, hall, gym, changing rooms, corridor spaces all taken up by rained off outdoor games groups.

Trees and shrubs around the school were planted by the gardeners, there was a copper beech by what I gather is now the leisure centre. Also, there were pine trees grown from seed extracted from cones, Rhododendrons on the front drive etc.

Miss Cohen had negotiated with the developers that instead of planting trees and shrubs they constructed a tennis court, WE could deal with the planting!

The pavilion had been converted to two classrooms some time before and classes from Springfield building trekked up for lessons there. Shortage of space in the new building meant that those two classrooms were used for several years after the move with class sizes in the region of 40 to 45.

Some time in the ’70’s a parent Mr Rose (son Andrew) badgered Mr Wilford to set up a parent/teacher association. Mr Wilford asked me as head of Lower School if I would set up such an organization for first and second years. Mr Wilford was persuaded that it would be preferable to involve all parents. Mr Harry Nash and I with Mr Rose then became regular attendees at meetings and events. An Awkward situation arose when the school amalgamated, should the association close? However we brazened it out with tongue in cheek presented ourselves as an ongoing association to the enlarged new comprehensive school. Somewhat reluctantly our new colleagues from the old Grammar School accepted the existence of the organization and they, and all parents (ex Modern and ex Grammar) joined in.

Maybe the nature changed slightly, what had been a group of “salt of the earth” informal gatherings became a more professional (pedantic?) organization which continued to raise funds and generally support the school. I remained a committee member until I retired.

In the reorganization I was appointed (sidelined) to careers. I was promised a lady assistant… It did not happen. Some schools took careers. civics to be a serious part of education and appointed staff to work full time there. Other schools seemed to take the view that if there were no Brownie points to be gained by entering pupils for a public examination in the subject than it became almost an extracurricular subject, lunch time/after school etc.

We had a shortage of Maths and Science teachers at that time and as Maths and Physics had been my specialist subjects I was called upon to teach in those areas for three quarters of my time.

Coping with marking and preparation in Maths and General Science and dealing with careers and its many meetings became a nightmare so when early retirement became an option I embraced it readily.

From time to time I see ex pupils around Shirley/Solihull, rather they see me and chat and reminisce. My memory for ‘faces’ is not too good, names and voices sometimes ring a bell, so I hope they forgive me for looking a little blank sometimes.

B.J.Checketts (Sometimes referred to as Charlie and once for a short time as “Our Dad” but that is another story!)