Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Coming to the end: getting a job, final exams, and a glimpse of student life in halls

Alice is only a few months away from finishing her Certificate of Teaching, however she has been very busy and pressured with work and her ongoing course demands.

In a letter to her mother dated 30th March 1958, Alice mentions how she was given a complimentary ticket to go with another student to watch the St. Albans Grammar School Dance Demonstration on Friday 28th, a programme featuring mainly National Dances It was a really excellent experience for her, although it was a long day as she had a school visit at Wellingborough High School in the morning, followed by an inter-year games tournament in the afternoon and late leave at night.

Then, the very next day, Saturday 29th March, she watched The Lark written by the French playwright Jean Anouilh and performed by the Bedford College of Physical Education Dramatic Society, which took place in the college gymnasium. Alice tells her mother what an excellent play it was and how superbly it was acted. She speaks with respect and admiration about her fellow student Eileen who played Joan of Arc in the play and how the whole thing was exceptionally good because of her.

With Alice writing this letter to her mother in the evening, mentioning that she will be on duty tonight, we get the opportunity to find out about student life living in halls, or Houses as they were called then. Students had a rota for their house duties. One student was on duty each week from Friday until Thursday throughout the term. The student had to lock up at 11pm during the week and at 9:30pm on Sundays. Then she had to check that all students were in their rooms. If a student was not in the house, the student had to report it to the lecturer on duty. Finally, she had to make sure that public rooms were tidy and lights were off.

The rules do not stop there. If a student wanted to leave the College grounds in the evening, then she had to sign the leave house book. There were two of these, one for evening leave and another one for after 11pm or weekends. When a student had leave during half term or weekends then she had to provide information such as name, address and telephone number of her hostess to the member of staff in her house.

Returning to the letter, Alice explained to her mother that mock final exams were to take place at the beginning of April, only a few days away, although nobody had started revising yet, and she reckoned it would not be until the morning before the afternoon of the exam. 
This letter to her mother gets really exciting when we find out that Alice’s efforts in looking for a job during the last two months have paid off. Alice has found a job as a PE teacher at Heriots Wood Grammar School for Girls, now known as Bentley Wood High School, in Harrow, north-west London.

Alice closes the letter to her mother on a positive note, mentioning how mild the temperature has been lately after a very snowy February and a cold March.

St. Albans Grammar School for Girls Festival of Dance Programme, March 1958

Programme for 'The Lark', March 1958

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