MORPETH: Education

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Greystoke was outstanding

Having been born, educated, worked and lived all my life in Morpeth, I enjoy reading articles in the Morpeth Herald about the history of the town.

I am now of an age that what is written is often what I actually remember.

Roger Hawkins’ recent article mentioned Greystoke Preparatory School, the last private school in the town.

This is the first time I have ever come across the school being mentioned in an article.

His reference that the school served the middle classes of the town who did not want their children to go to the ordinary schools was a little unkind to those parents who are still alive (of whom my mother is one of them) who sent their children to Greystoke.

We have to go back to what life was like in the 1950s if you were a child.

At 11 you sat the 11-plus and that very much determined your future for the rest of your life. If you passed you went to the grammar school, if you failed to the secondary modern school.

A place at the grammar was very much a passport to success.

Parents who sent their children to Greystoke were not doing so, as Roger suggests, because they did not want their children to go to ordinary schools, they were doing so to give their children their best chance in life.

Many of the parents who sent their children to Greystoke were not wealthy, but were prepared to make considerable sacrifices to get their children educated.

At the time I was at Greystoke we lived in a council house, 12 Spelvit Lane, Morpeth, my father worked full-time and had another part-time job, most women were housewives, but my mother went out to work, we had no holidays, apart from staying with a relative in Sussex each year. We had no motor car.

My parents did what they did to ensure I was educated.

Greystoke was an outstanding school. The headmaster was William Charlton, he made sure all pupils were smartly dressed, well mannered and polite.

I remember being told if I was on a bus and a lady was standing you must give her your seat.

The education was of a very high standard and most of his pupils passed the 11-plus.

There was a great emphasis on the basics of reading, writing and maths. I have always been able to spell correctly, punctuate, and do mental arithmetic and I put this all down to Greystoke.

I remember Miss Willis taking us for music, each week the whole school would form a choir, and we held a carol service at St James’ Church each year.

While I was at Greystoke we all had friends who were going to ‘other schools’ in Morpeth, and some have remained friends with me throughout my life.

I went on to King Edward VI Grammar School, Morpeth, Newcastle University where I read law, and then qualified as a solicitor. I have practised as a solicitor in Morpeth since 1975.

I owe everything I have achieved in my life to my parents, the excellent education I received from the two schools I attended in Morpeth and Newcastle University.

David Auld

Fir Tree Copse

Morpeth