The Maltonian Web

Maltonians' Memories

Molly McKie, formerly Molly Skelton
and as MGS pupil, Molly Ibbotson 1948-1951

Memories of an MGS pupil, a teacher at
Malton National School 1955-58,
Malton County Modern 1958-1971, and
Malton School 1971-1986

I joined the teaching staff at St Michael's C of E School Malton, known locally as The National or Malton Senior C of E School, as a Supply Teacher for one term in April 1955, although I had been there prior to my College days as a student when Mr Lever was the HM. I can only remember his interest in music and some science. As a student I was 'dogsbody' doing any job put before me. Once I was qualified I did a number of supply jobs (Amotherby all age School and Malton Junior School in Greengate) before I started in St Michael's Street.

The HM was Mr Withers (Remedial class sadly known as the backward class!) Deputy HM Mr Stan Grice Class 4 (14year olds) General subjects and Gardening. The school allotments were up Castle Howard Road where there is now a housing estate on the left.

The rest of the staff - Mrs Harrison Class 1 (11 year olds) and girls P.E. or Drill as it was known, and undertaken in the schoolyard next to St Michael's Street. There was a Bookies next to the yard and frequently an audience then Mrs Harrison left at the end of my first term and I was asked to stay on permanently. As a consequence I never did a Probationary year and was never " inspected" for 11 years.

Mr Reg Waterworth joined the school to teach Year 1 and later went on to Malton School to teach R.E. which used to be known as Scripture.

Mr Brian Goforth came from the forces to teach Year 2 ( 12 year olds) and Art and PE. He too went on to Malton School to do the same. We were both former MGS pupils.

Year 3 (13 year olds) was taught by a lady with very strong religious views and seriously objected to the wall charts in the upstairs science room depicting the scientific development of the Human species. She constantly quoted Genesis to us all at our weekly staff meeting. This took place when the Head took the whole school in the Hall for Singing, our only non-teaching time. We occasionally had other classes to take and had to exchange lesson plans so that we knew what our individual classes were doing. Our weekly diary of work was handed to the HM.

My class was Class 5 (the remedial class) and Needlecraft and some English. Classes were often 40+ in size. In my student days in Sheffield my smallest class was 52 and the largest was 64 strong!! One weekly Needlecraft class had 90, yes, ninety girls in it. There was no alternative to it in those days and no free periods or marking time.

All the classrooms were dreary brown and cream and windows so high there were no outside distractions. When I was asked what colour I wanted my room decorated "ie:- light or dark I said bright and came back to a room with 4 blood red walls. This even then was known as a very disturbing colour and all I could do was to swamp the walls with lots of Visual Aids and pupils' work, which was considered a very modern approach then!

We were all informed we would be deployed and transferred to the County Modem in 1958.

My appointment was to teach needlecraft throughout the school and also take the remedial class plus some English. When the school leaving age was raised to 15 and the C.S.E. exams were developed I became the County Rep for my main subject and the school double entered candidates doing Oxford Board G.C.E.'s, with such success that the Modern School got a letter from the Chief Education Officer congratulating us on our G.C.E. results way above the national average! We had the policy of fortnightly reports for all 5th year candidates, on which there were spaces for student and parental comments. Hard work for us but with the desired results. I went from remedial teaching and English right through to Mathematics, Careers Guidance and 'A' level Dress and Needlecraft and the last few years being a 6th Form form tutor. The latter was controversial at the time. As far as I remember all previous 6th form tutors had been male.

One other innovation I requested when the comprehensive reorganisation came into being was for the school to incorporate trousers for girls to be part of the uniform. Shock, horror and very raised eyebrows from Mr Taylor the former HM of the Grammar School and new Malton School gave a formidable thumbs down on that. Girls even today in some schools are forbidden to wear trousers to work. Mr Taylor fell ill and died shortly after and Mr Gresswell agreed to this addition to the uniform after realising that when changing Wings in winter the girls were donning trousers and then changing into skirts for lessons, thus wasting lots of time and cluttering the cloakrooms with extra clothes.

We made front page headlines in the national press for being the first State school to incorporate trousers into the new school uniform. I was delighted to be able to wear trouser suits to teach at last. Quite a few of the men on the staff made comments about preferring to see girls in mini-skirts at the time, and probably still do.

School Plays

In the C of E school concerts were just for pupils at the end of term and were for the most part made up of songs and poetry readings, but for my classes we made puppets and a 'theatre' and one memorable performance which made me proud of my remedial group was The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. All my pupils learned all the verses by heart and we were requested to do several repeat performances in the following months. I can still say the entire poem to this day. Those were the days of learning every week poetry and sections of the bible by heart, not forgetting multiplication tables as well.

Malton County Modern School.

A lovely hall and stage gave rise to some excellent school productions under the guidance of first Mr A Rudd, Head of English and later Mr G Bowman.

The Importance of Being Earnest (OscarWilde) was memorable and although I can visualise the cast and the costumes the students made under my guidance, alas I can not name them.

Pygmalian (Bernard Shaw) I do remember Eliza Doolittle - Elizabeth Cryer and an unforgetably funny performance by Donald Cass as Eliza's father. He brought the house down, so to speak.

Bon Aventure. (Author ?) The costumes of the nuns were loaned to us by Scarborough Convent. The lead, and jolly nun was the first to admit she was no nun so I won't name her. She was actually caught by me on the school playing fields displaying for first and second form boys the delights of the human female form and said "I told you Miss I was miss-cast as a nun. She went on to more notoriety in her later school years!

One school play involved the construction of The Crown Court but again my memory fails me. Of all the memories that sticks in my mind was one involving Chris Sellars from Amotherby and one of his pals. They were cast as Nubian Slaves. Wearing only loin cloths and entirely in black stage make-up from head to foot travelled home on the last bus terrifying the passengers and causing a rumpus for the school later.

The photograph albums of all the MCM plays were handed to me after a number of years being kept under the stage. When I retired in 1986 I left them in the Needlecraft room cupboard. We also had a large collection of costumes, some very valuable had been left by the then owners of Whitwell House when they emptied their attics and wanted them to be used and not in a museum. They were in padlocked cupboards on the stage. Sadly when I was no longer in charge of them the 6th Formers broke the locks and used them for fancy dress parties and damaged many beyond repair.

Malton School Plays

The exam system over took the syllabus and no longer was there time to make costumes for school productions and together with Union instructions in order to gain a much needed pay increase for teachers a work to rule was being applied. In fact MCM was the only rural school asked to strike in 1974 or 5 and we closed for 2 weeks. For those against this we did secure a  29% rise and 6 months back pay for everyone. The non strikers in other schools did not turn it down.

I've forgotten to mention 'Oliver' which invovled members of staff in the cast. Mr John Whitehead was Bill Sykes. Nancy was the PE teacher of the time. John Horsman was Fagin and Jake Thompson of Buttermountain Boys fame was Oliver.

Other incidental memories

MCM School cook was Mrs Lythe mother of Gordon who went on to wrestling fame on TV as Klondyke Bill. The 43 stone Mountain Man straight from Madison Square Garden. He weighed 23 stones in reality. I once saw him buy 6 'ones of each' at a fish shop for his own supper to be eaten with a whole loaf of bread! To me though I will always be eternally grateful to him as a slim 15 year old when he saved my 4 year old daughter from drowning in the then open-air baths at Norton. I was watching her but was distracted by some lads fooling about and he saw she was floating face down. He came from Old Malton. The next school cook was Mrs Humble. School dinner tables were always headed by members of staff and grace and good manners were the order of the day. There was no choice of menu.

For one year only Malton Junior School was housed in the old school in St Michael's Street and then transferred to the Malton CM premises. Mr Heath, Miss Joyce Clarke, Mr Ron Sargeant were the Junior teachers and they then transferred to the present Junior School on Peasey Hill.

One Head Boy in the early days was John Thorpe. His authority was as good as any member of staff and if one required the school to be cleared quickly he was the one to ask. He later joined the police. I met him much later in life when the Agatha Christie film was being made in Harrogate and I was parked inadvertently overnight on the film set. I asked the nearest PC where I could park and lo and behold it was John, who found me the only spare place around right next to the film Director no less.