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Andrew Johnson

His life as a pupil at Westminster. Cliques and the effect of the arrival of girls in sixth form. [4.09] Stayed in touch with surprisingly few Westminster schoolmates. [6.21] Phab [experience week in partnership with a charity working with disabled and non-disabled children]. How it has changed over the years. His work gave it more stability, health and safety clearance and financial stability. [10.54] Phab’s expansion over the years, and possible reasons for its growth. [13.54] Difference between his school days and time as a teacher. School now seems better able to help pupils who are less academically gifted than the others. School takes part in more outreach and charity work. School facilities much better. The Manoukian Music Centre, Millicent Fawcett Hall [theatre], Weston’s [classrooms] and Lawrence Hall [sports centre] were all acquired after his schooldays. [16.20] Difficult to tell if there’s been a change in ethos. Still promotes individuality. [18.07] Effects of internet. [19.25] Effects of increased numbers of pupils. [21.28] How his experience of the school has changed now he’s a teacher. [23.06] Will miss colleagues and pupils, but not the physical place. [26.12] His future plans. His move to the London Academy of Excellence. Potential to make a difference to social mobility. How he will interpret the role. [31.11] Proud moments as a pupil. [33.22] Proud moments as a teacher. The changed atmosphere in Ashburnham. The house publication The Ash Tree and house concerts and plays. The house has become a community. Has enjoyed his time as a teacher.

Rodney Harris

Timestamp index:

Background. Grew up in Bromley and went to St Dunstan’s College. Enjoyed school. Teachers who made an impression. [2:10] Cambridge application process and the seventh term, to revise for the Oxbridge exam. [4:06] Teaching at a school in Beckenham between school and Cambridge. Assisting the owner of the school with his historical research. Life at Cambridge. [5:47] First posting was at Marlborough, his first experience of a boarding school. Always something to do. Changes at Marlborough over the 9 years he was there. [8:08] Being headhunted by Jim Cogan, Deputy Head, at Westminster. Long notice period requested, to prepare to change the Geography department at Westminster. [9.53] Problems with the Geography department’s teaching. Disappointing exam results. [11:06] Returning to London. [12:00] Perceptions of Geography by other Masters, and how this changed over the years. [13:13] Head of Department meetings. Much more combative than today. [15:24] Met Debbie, future wife, at Marlborough. She moved to London with him. [16:57] The founding of Purcell’s, the new girls’ boarding house. [19:42] Living at Purcell’s with Debbie, now Mistress in charge of girls at Westminster, and their children. [22:22] Changes to girls’ experience of Westminster over the years. Increasing focus on grades. [23:38] Parents becoming more involved. [25:13] Specific challenges with girls – discipline and pastoral. Often more easily upset. More focused. [27:50] The selection process. [29:00] His changing roles. [31:15] Head Masters’ different leadership styles. David Summerscale, Tristram Jones-Parry and Stephen Spurr. [33:51] Becoming Director of Studies. The importance of seeing people in their own classroom and space. [37:18] Quieter tone of Heads of Departments meetings today. Importance of autonomy for departments at Westminster. [40:20] Changes to school life. More societies, music and sport. [43:43] China project. Development of the project. Lessons learnt. Different working styles in China. [51:29] Decision to become the Head Master there. [53:02] Learning from previous Head Masters. Empowering those beneath you. [54:32] The privilege of living in London, at the heart of it all. Being close to theatres, cinemas, cricket.

Tristram Jones-Parry

Schooldays at Westminster. [2:05] Memorable teachers. A Maths Master who left Germany just before WWII. Stephen Lushington, English Master. [2:45] Time in Wren’s. House Master, Charles Keeley, a History Master: difficult to get to know, no pastoral care, but great teacher. [3:54] Shooting at the leader of the Combined Cadet Force. [6:29] Involvement in drama at school. [7:13] Closed exhibition to Christ Church, Cambridge, to read Mathematics. Involvement with drama. College life. [9:44] First job, working for Coal Board. Computers still new. [10:38] Unpopularity when visiting mines, since visiting to see if the mine should be closed. Difficult. Resigned after a year. [11:18] Decision to become a teacher. Computing. [12:12] Head of Maths at Westminster at 25 years old. Enjoyed teaching. [14:00] Enjoyed his time at Westminster. Pupils were beginning to think for themselves. [14:49] School had become more academic, partly due to John Rae’s Head Mastership. [16:05] Being House Master of Busby’s. Drugs. [17:46] Called by Scotland Yard when boys climbing Foreign Office. Similar things happened frequently - more relaxed then. Girls began boarding in Busby’s in his last year as House Master. [19:07] Became Under Master. Reputation for being fierce. Governing Body complaints about pupil behaviour. [23:23] Pushing pupils to work hard. Maths is exciting. [25:43] Left Westminster for Emmanuel School in Battersea. Started to take in girls while he was there. [27:53] Importance of co-education. [29:28] Head Mastership of Westminster came up. Asked to apply. [29:50] Giving thought-provoking sermons. [32:28] Talking to pupils but also support staff. [33:03] Advantages of Westminster. Pupils feel part of the life of the country, for example taking part in the Iraq War demonstrations, and yet in tranquil and beautiful surroundings. [43:08] Receiving pupils whose parents wouldn’t be able to afford fees. [36:00] Didn’t get Abbey involved in School as much as wanted. [36:34] Proposal to set up school in China rejected by Governing Body. Proposal to have underground gym in Dean’s Yard. [37:26] Disney payment for rights to Winnie the Pooh. Other donations to the School. [40:27] Giving pupils expelled from other schools a second chance. [41:03] Pupil perceptions of his toughness. [42:52] Retired early at 58. [43:23] Teaching Maths at state schools in his retirement. [44:38] Changing the timings of the school day at Hampton Court School to complement teenagers’ circadian rhythms. [47:46] Pupils at Westminster very varied. Advice to Andrew Lloyd-Webber that musicals aren’t profitable. [49:31] Sense of social responsibility. Could cause discomfort when teaching at Westminster. [50:52] Exciting the difference you can make at a state school. [51:36] Discussing his trips to Communist countries with pupils. [53:29] Advantages of Buddhism. Everyone should attend Abbey. [55:25] School exhibitions to Skye and elsewhere. Pupil mislaid on a mountain. More Health and Safety now. [57:19] Expeditions were run by staff who were following their passions. [59:09] Effects of new technology in schools. Programming. Cyberbullying. Pornography online. [1:01:50] Increasing number of women teachers. [1:04:16] Changes in the value of grades. [1:06:36] The beauty of an elliptical flowerbed.

Peter Gysin

His prep school, Feltham Fleet, was much stricter than Westminster. Late for the Westminster entrance exam because his father’s car broke down. [3:10] A sherry party for the parents of new boys at Busby’s. [3:36] The characters of different houses. Busby’s was a good balance of liberality and discipline. [6:30] Theo Zinn, a Classics teacher, was a family friend and the reason Gysin came to Westminster. His teaching style complemented Denis Moylan’s. [8:03] A description of various contemporaries. [10:13] His involvement in the Busby play. [11:21] How his time at Westminster has helped him. A lack of exaggerated respect for status and hierarchies. [12:45] The Oxbridge exams. Interviews were less important then. [14:02] The College Street Clarion. Its sporadic appearance. [14:55] The Busby house ledgers. [16:43] The change in the tone of the school when Dr Rae took over in 1970. The school became more involved in wider society. [18:47] The food. Dull but edible. He was the house champion jelly-eater. [20:53] The benefits of the weekly boarding system. [21:42] His involvement in the Busby Society, for former Busbites, and its annual dinner.

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