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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.

Gavin Griffiths

No strong impulse to go to Westminster. Serendipity rather than conscious plan. Just wanted to leave his school in Wimbledon. [2:07] Sees teaching as a job rather than a career. Accommodation at school meant he had a better lifestyle than he would otherwise have been able to afford, so unable to leave Westminster. [3:50] Enjoyed all his roles in the school. Attempts to prevent him from being Head of English. Without an SMT, it was easier for elderly teachers to put pressure on Head Masters than it is now. [7:05] Ashburnham House Master. Great job. Its location meant it was difficult to get people over there. Supervision of the house had not previously been very thorough. [8:31] Grant’s was fun but very tiring, since it was a boarding house and therefore very long hours. This improved after another boarding house master had a nervous breakdown. [10:18] Far greater parental involvement than before. Can make it more difficult for the children. [12:17] Westminster looks after children better than it used to. More involvement and pastoral support from the House Master now. [13:26] Change in the texts studied. Othello and Lolita now no longer on the syllabus. [18:33] Teachers’ tendency to perform. Used to being the centre of attention. [19:13] Big figures in the Common Room. Ernest Sanger, an Austrian Jew who left Europe before the outbreak of war. Should have been an academic. Theo Zinn, an enormous influence. [21:47] Inspirational teachers can often be the bully as well. [22:29] Common Room 30 years ago. All men apart from one teacher. Smoking and conspiring. An example of plotting against the Head Master, John Rae. [24:21] Improvements to Common Room photocopying during his time as Common Room President. Also finding a helpful Common Room secretary. [27:47] Computers have made some tasks easier but have created more work. Enjoyed teaching in different classrooms when there was more pressure for space. [31:14] Introduction of girls to the school. Frances Holland School didn’t have laboratories, so girls came for the science lessons. It began as an informal arrangement. [32:57] The introduction of girls meant there was more socialising in Yard. House differences became less important. [35:24] Much harder to get into Oxbridge than it used to be. [38:21] The importance of straightforward criticism. [41:24] Theory of the developing intellect. [42:01] Negative effects of child protection policies. More cumbersome now and instructs children to distrust all adults. Morally offensive. [45:20] Miss the 7th term for Oxbridge, when the most difficult topics were tackled, but otherwise the intellectual element of teaching is just as challenging. [46:49] Teachers that he particularly remembers. Russell Dudley-Smith, a polymath. Richard Jacobs, an inspiration as an English teacher. [48:58] The predominance of Maths, the only subject with no moral content. On whether this will continue. [51:43] Advice to teachers joining Westminster. Advice to pupils at Westminster. [54:51] The virtues of conformity or independent thinking. [55:41] Will miss having an audience when he leaves. [56:50] An anecdote about a pupil’s late prep. [58:22] Unsure what he will do after Westminster. Perhaps writing. [1:00:19] Preventing the stripper-gram from accosting John Rae.

Rod Beavan, 2013-06-24

Greatly enjoyed his time at King Edward VI Camp Hill Grammar School in Birmingham. Worked as a technician at the University of Birmingham for Neville Cartwright, a bacteriologist. Then worked in the Physics Department. Completed a PhD. [2:24] Started to consider teaching at a school. Enjoys the collegiate atmosphere and learning from colleagues about different subjects. [2:53] Started teaching at Sherbourne School in 1972 and stayed there for 19 years. [3:18] Head of Science at Westminster. Was attracted to the role’s combination of different sciences and the great reputation of the science department at the time. [4:51] The school is now a kinder place than it used to be, but hasn’t lost its academic edge or its tolerance for unusual people. Before, the school’s atmosphere could be quite abrasive and girls had to be survivors to enjoy it. [8:13] How to change the atmosphere in a school. [10:13] The characteristics of a Westminster pupil. Often more confident. Intellectual curiosity. [12:53] The importance of pupils progressing in every aspect of their lives. [15:10] Moved to SMT and gave up most teaching. Became the Senior Master and got to know more pupils. [18:30] He has really enjoyed his time in the SMT. Insight into the work behind the scenes. [19:58] Different Head Masters had little effect on him when he was Head of Science. They trusted him and left him to run the department. [22:33] Enormous increase in the number of pupils taking science. There is much more energy in the department than when he first came. [24:38] Changes in the science curriculum. Now more emphasis on understanding than in just knowing things. [26:48] Chemistry influences how he looks at the world. [28:42] His time as Chief Examiner for Edexcel.

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