TCS - the early years

TCS - the early years - Page 5

Advertisements were placed in the papers and the selection process began. 18 new teachers were appointed and the new experiment was under way. It is of interest, that in deciding on the number of staff, the Board did not seek the approval of the Department. This showed that the Board was going to manage this school in the way it thought best for the school and the community. This independence caused a lot of debate and some difficult meetings with the Department. The Board took the line that this school was proposed by the Department, that many promises were made to “sell" these schools, and that the Board was only following these guidelines. I must record here that from the very first time I met the Board until I retired 16 years later, I had their total support... This support was there at times when I know that individual members would not have agreed with what I was doing. Without that support a difficult job would have become almost impossible.

So it was that we all assembled in September 1972 in the old Vocational school in the village, a group that was meeting each other for the first time, the core of which was the 8 who had opted to stay in the new system, and the rest were, to a great extent, in their first year of teaching .We had an enrolment of 145 first years and a total enrolment of 383. By any research findings this start of a completely new type of school was doomed to fail, and it is a matter of celebration and pride that not only did it not fail, it went from strength to strength. A number of those early teachers were still in the school 25 years later and some are still there today 30 years on. A feature of the early years was the number of teachers who left on promotion to some of the new Community Schools. I claimed that we were the Mother House to a number of the new schools, in particular St. Marks to whom we provided the first Principal and Vice-Principal, and two other members of staff (of course they would be reluctant to admit this) There was no time for any detailed planning -we had a school to run, we were in buildings that were obsolete, but we were promised a new building by the following year.

Because of the local controversy the opening of the school attracted a lot of media attention and I had reason to be thankful for my experience in the teacher union in dealing with the press and television. This also made me have some coherent philosophy to present to the reporters, and almost unknown to myself I was enunciating policy.