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Shenstone Training College

A Memory of Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove Teacher Training College's proper name was Shenstone Teacher Training College and was under the aegis of Birmingham University. Shenstone was originally situated on the old prisoner of war camp outside Kidderminster, in the village of Stone. It originally offered two year teacher training, but in 1960, with the change in the regulations for teacher training, the course was upgraded to three years.
I was amongst the first group of three year students at Shenstone. In those days, we all took the basic subjects - Maths, English, Science, Phys.Ed., Dance, Art, Health Ed, as well as Education (History, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Child Development) and two special subjects which we studied in more depth, for two years. In the third year we continued our study of Education plus one special subject which we studied to quite a high level. We produced a 'Long Term Assignment' on each of these third year subjects, as well as normal assignments. I took two special subjects - Music and Religious Education.
Miss Mary Wood was the principal. She had been principal at Manchester Training College when my mother trained there as a mature-aged student, and when I met Miss Wood at the induction evening, she said, "Ah yes. I remember your mother well. She was an excellent student!" and gave me a piercing look. We were all somewhat in awe of Miss Wood. Doc. Matthews was the deputy principal. He lectured in Old Testament and History of Religion, and was a great man, full of energy, enthusiasm and common sense, and with a great sense of humour.
In 1963, the new buildings at Bromsgrove opened, and the new intake of first year students were housed there and bused across to the old college in Stone for lectures, library use etc.
In the first group of those students was Gerry Edghill - 'the chicken pox boy' - so called because he contracted chicken pox in his first month at college and had to be driven home to Hornchurch in the college car. Gerry and I dated for a while, and eventually, in 1966, we married. We have lived in Australia for the past thirty three years.
Our teaching practices, I think they're called 'placements' here in Oz, were in various Birmingham schools. We found that nobody ever failed their courses at Shenstone, but there was a reasonable attrition rate as people opted out after various teaching pracs. The pracs were tough. We had to write thorough reports on that day's lessons, prepare our lessons for the next day in great minute by minute detail, prepare all the activities, handouts, visual aids etc (and we didn't have photocopiers in those days!), do our marking, update our child study report, with the result that we were rarely in bed before 1am. (Woe betide anyone who didn't have their file up to date when a lecturer dropped into a lesson!) We were then up at 5 - 5.30 am to catch the bus to our school. Hardly surprising that some gave up, and others got sick. I remember that after my long prac in second year, I was sent home early from college with pneumonia.
Some kind donor had paid for a chapel to be built at the new college in Bromsgrove, so all through my three years at Shenstone, there was a huge organ fund drive. My group of friends, Jenny Bulley, Janet Lee, Menai Williams and I, did our bit by doing hair sets, for which we charged two shillings or so. I also gave several recitals around the place, with Miss Joyce Messenger, the Music lecturer. Joyce went on to be awarded the FRCO - a qualification of some great distinction for organists.
Under Joyce, we had an active Music department, with Music students being given tutoring in their instrument of choice plus piano, (I had singing and cello lessons as well as piano) and there was a small orchestra and choir. We were in big demand at Christmas and end-of-year events. We also put on two Gilbert and Sullivan operettas - Trial By Jury, and HMS Pinafore.
Shenstone gave a solid training in all subject areas. The staff were dedicated and well qualified. If you were prepared to work, Shenstone certainly gave you a great grounding for further study.
Thanks to Joyce, I won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where I took my ARCM. I later went on to Sussex University and took my B.Ed. (Hons).
Gerry went on to take his B.Sc in Agricultural Engineering at Silsoe College of Agricultural Engineering, and later to Readng University to take his M.Sc in Agricultural Management.
Gerry and I went back to the old Stone site in 2001. The gates were locked, the gardens were a mess, and the place had become a boarding school for Muslim boys.
We also visited the Bromsgrove site and found that it was now used as sheltered accommodation and I believe council offices.
So much history in those two sites. I wonder if anyone thinks about those days? Gerry and I would love to hear from you.
Some people we remember are, Mr McFarlane, Rev Archie McLennan, Miss Tansey, Mama Lloyd, Mike Fisher, Max Davies, Carol Thistle, Maureen Hands, Tim, Blossom - sorry, never did get to know your real name! - Miss Sendell, Miss Spurway, to name but a few.
You can find us at jennyslake@bordernet.com.au, and our web page is www.walpole.org.au/jennyslake.html

A memory shared by Jenny Dean , on Jan 6th, 2009.

Comments & feedback

Sat Aug 8th 2015, at 12:45 pm

johnwaters commented:

Mon Aug 10th 2015, at 2:25 am

Jenny Dean commented:

Hi John, When were you at Shenstone? Gerry and I would love to hear from you.

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