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Jane Hill – Bath Spa University

Jane started her studies at Newton Park in 1962. Here, she shares with us her memories of her teaching placements and her life with other students.

"Besides formal teaching practices, there were amazing, innovative experiences, through which we learned so much about child development and needs and how to meet them."

Jane Hill

I remember coming to my interview in October 1961. I wore a hat and gloves, as was “de rigeur” at the time. It lasted all day, and as well as being interviewed by various staff, and grilled about my chosen subject of English, I was also shown around by students which included sampling the food in the canteen.

I was given an unconditional offer, and in September 1962 the next chapter of my life and its future began.

Many students lived on site but I, like many others, lived off site. There was one very overcrowded bus to college in the morning and one back at night. I lived in Hockley, a large adapted house, with about 20 other students. We shared rooms and there was one communal washing area. An evening meal (no choice) was provided.
The rules were strict! No boys were allowed further than the communal sitting room. The warden would stand, arms folded at the door making sure that we crossed the threshold by 10.00pm!

Every day was full on, starting at 9am and continuing into the evening. The main and subsidiary subjects and psychology were held in half-day sessions with mid-morning and a mid-afternoon break.

Most evenings we would be back at Hockley by around 6pm. After eating our evening meal we would work or sit and chat or listen to the radio. At weekends we would often gather at The Salamander pub.

We were allowed just two weekends away from college, per term and then could not leave until Saturday morning. In the first two to three weeks, we spent much time getting to know our surroundings.

There was much emphasis on soaking up the college grounds and making use of the environment and the natural things around us. 

We worked in one way or another with children and or young people at some point during every term throughout the three years.

The “Village Survey” happened about two to three weeks into the first term. What an experience that was!
All students were allotted to a village primary school in and around Somerset. Some schools were a considerable distance away and students were billeted out on a weekly basis.

This was our first taste of working in a school. We taught quite a few sessions, and we were also encouraged to become absorbed in village life, and to learn about the local history (finding out more by talking to elderly inhabitants) and environment of the school. We were asked to record our observations and make drawings. 

My “village” was Bathampton. It was not a truly rural “village” in those days even. I did find it difficult to fulfil all the tasks. However, I did get to talk to one of the last of the Harbutt dynasty. Bathampton was famous for its factory, where Harbutt’s plasticine, a children’s modelling material, was made to a top secret recipe. The factory is long gone. Bath Spa still has a scholarship endowed by the family.

We were of course supported by a college member of staff and possibly assessed, but it was far too exciting and fun to give thought to that.

I vividly remember spending an afternoon per week for a term, working in a secondary school. I worked in Temple Girls’ School, which was a very old school in the middle of Bristol, close to Temple Meads Station. For me this was a whole new experience, being in an inner city school and the pupils being mainly of Afro Caribbean descent. The girls were willing and enthusiastic and I loved working with them.

The college principal was Miss Dawson. I always thought that she was so good looking and elegant with her greying hair, and always smartly dressed. 

Tall and slightly stooped, she was often seen about the college, walking at a measured pace at all times, and ever watchful. I believe that she probably knew all of her students and had time for them and her staff. She somehow commanded respect but did not intimidate.

She addressed all of us “new” students within our first few days. I remember two of the things, which she counselled us always to remember:

  1. How we dressed was extremely important and would influence the first view of us which pupils would have.
  2. Always remember that the children would think that we were older than we were!

At Christmas time it was her custom to visit all the student residences, which were not on the college grounds. The students entertained her and word went out that her favourite song was Tiptoe Through The Tulips. How true this was we never knew, however it fell to me to sing this as part of our house’s entertainment,

I have a very personal memory of her however. I shall never forget how kind, gentle, understanding and supportive she was, when she had to tell me that my mother had died.

The Alumni Oral Histories project aimed to gather individual voices and views from the University's teaching alumni community and publish these stories in people's own words. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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