b'LessonsFROM THE PASTOn 18th May 2022, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Mr Richard Postill, a former Chemistry teacher at Handsworth Grammar School who taught at the school between 1960 and 1966. This was his first visit to the school since 1966 when he left to retrain as a Church of England minister. He subsequently had a long and enjoyable career as a minister in the Church of England in parishes in Birmingham and the Black Country. He is now happily retired and lives with his wife in Shirley, Solihull. I chatted with Richard and Mr Conway, Deputy Headteacher, as we walked around the school, before we sat down and he shared his memories of the school from the early 1960s and his impressions of a very different HGS now. What first brought What can you rememberwhat chalk and blackboards were!]you to Handsworthabout teaching here at The staff room (now room 6) had armchairs in and the staff played bridge at lunchtime. Grammar School? the time? Dont forget, lunch was between 12:00 and 1:30 each day. The Deputy Headteacher I had been educated at a school which wasTeachers were expected to wear academicactually had a desk in the staff room, from also a grammar school in East Yorkshire,gowns or, if you were a science teacher,which to work. The food in the canteen was and there was a real push to attract youngwhite laboratory coats. The teacher desksserved by senior pupils, and the boys sat teachers to the rapidly developing city ofwere on a raised dais in each classroom.down for a three-course lunch every day.Birmingham. I completed my chemistryOn my first ever lesson with one particularlyWe had a music teacher who was very keen degree and teacher training in Hull, andchallenging class, I fell over the raised daison producing Gilbert and Sullivan operas. was then invited to Handsworth. I wasand ended up in a heap on the ground.In fact, he was so keen on these annual interviewed and appointed by the ReverendThere was a stunned silence from the classproductions that he seemed to farm out J. J. Walton, Holy Joe as he was known.which was only ended by my laughter.all of his music lessons to anyone who was He was a thrash em first and askAs Id laughed at myself, the pupilsavailable, so that he could rehearse with questions later sort of headteacher whoimmediately took to me and I never had athe pupils. Then after the operas had taken was here at the school as headmaster forsingle problem with that class. place, he was so exhausted that once again thirty years. Corporal punishment, the cane,We had blackboards then and chalk. Therehe farmed out his lessons to unsuspecting was still administered at the school, butwas little in the way of lesson planningjunior staff!only by the senior masters. and, to be honest, you sort of made up the lessons as you went along! [It was at thisThe science labs were where your art stage that Mr Conway had to explain to merooms are now, overlooking Grove Primary 50'