First Year Teaching Practice at Crownhill

Steve Hatton

During the summer of 1971, I was placed in Plymouth for 4 weeks to complete my first teaching Practice. The advantage of it being only 4 weeks was that there was little time to do any real damage to the children.

There was not enough maths available for me to have a complete timetable, so they asked if I could teach some first year physics. I didn’t see this as a problem so I agreed. It turned out however, that I had to get the approval of the physics department at College for my scheme of work and lesson plans. It turned out that they had a completely different requirement for schemes and lesson plans to the maths department and they grudgingly approved what I had prepared. To be fair, I made a pretty poor job of teaching physics – but fortunately only four lessons!

The maths went OK, though I can only really remember the lessons where I took a 2nd year group out to the playing fields (in the sunshine) to estimate hights of buildings. A fabulous sunny afternoon. I’m not actually sure if we managed to get anything approaching useful results.

The part of the process I remember most was my digs. I had 4 day lodgings at a house a short walk from the school owned by Mr and  Mrs Ellis – a Cornish couple.

I arrived on the Monday afternoon after school and introduced myself. After they had shown me to my room, I had to explain that I was a vegetarian She was a little phased but when I pointed out that I just ate the vegetables and I didn’t need a whole special menu she was quite happy – until she remembered Thursdays!

Thursday was pasty day!

She mulled this over while she as her husband told  me about the derivation of the Cornish pasty and the fact they were developed for the miners to take down the mines. The pasty would contain a whole meal in one “wrapper”, everything, including meat, potato and veg at one end, then usually there’d be a “pudding” at the other end.

In the end she decided a cheese and potato pasty would be fine.

pastyThursday came and after school I returned home and sat down for the evening meal to be greeted by the cheese and potato pasty. I have to admit, it was amazing! The ends hung over both sides of the plate. It was unbelievably tasty and moist.

I was so taken with it and so complimentary that each Friday she would make a pasty for me to take back to Killerton.

By sheer coincidence, Christine during her teaching practice the following year was assigned to Crownhill Infants School. She was placed in digs next door to Mr and Mrs Ellis with a Mrs Owen. I think she spent quite a bit of time with the Ellis’ and persuaded Mrs Ellis to show her how to make “proper” pasties.  Each weekend Chris would bring back a pasty from Mrs Ellis just for me.

The long term outcome of this is that for Christmas dinner each year, I have a pasty – hand made by Chris to Mrs Ellis’ specification (mostly!)

The following summer Mr and Mrs Ellis came to visit us at Killerton – of course, she brought me a pasty.