Peter attended University In Aberdeen and then a year at teacher training college. He completed his National Service in Scotland and started his teaching career at South Esk Primary school in Montrose. It was 1953 and he was 23. He was an assistant primary school teacher. His classes normally had about 30 children. Each year a group of travellers came into the area with a circus. By law their children had to accumulate 200 attendances per academic year (a non-traveller child had 400 (am=1 pm= 2). They carried a log with them which the school signed. When the circus arrived the class grew to 56 and the school had to adjust to the increased numbers as best they could. Once the children had acquired to 20 attendances required they stopped coming until the next academic year. South Esk School was on the side of the river where the Chivers Jam factory was. You could tell what was being cooked each day i.e. a jam day or a marmalade day.
In the school the children’s desk were set into rows with an inkwell in each. Parents usually only came into the school to complain otherwise they left the school to get on with the job of educating their children. The belt was used as a form of punishment for misbehaviour. Peter remembered the Master of Method at Training College stating with respect to the use of the belt that it should be used ” seldom but memorably”. The
janitor’s office was next to the front door and if the Headteacher had administered the belt on a child it usually wasn’t long before a parent arrived at the school to find out the details of why their child had been selected for this penalty. The janitor’s job was then to make sure they didn’t get in without an appointment. This was because not all the parents were in a good mood when they arrived at the school.
Next he moved to Sunnyside Primary School in Aberdeen where he taught for 10 years. He completed a Masters of Education degree at the University of Aberdeen and went on to work as an Educational Psychologist.
Memory contributed by Peter Cromer, Fochabers
Information about the history of teacher training in Aberdeen
Industrial History website- Grace’s guide non-profit guide