“Are you strong, lass?”
Memoirs from a ’70s Yorkshire classroom
by Kath Padgett
Kath Padgett arrived as a naïve, newly-qualified graduate teacher of modern languages just as the pop band Dawn were topping the charts with ‘Knock Three Times,’ Spangles were the sweets of choice and orange mini skirts with shoes from Freeman, Hardy & Willis all the rage.
‘In those first two years, I laughed and cried, encountered wonderful and inspirational people, many of whom turned out to be lifelong friends and, in addition to learning how to teach, was taught how to learn. I learned about strength of character, tough love and the things that really mattered in life.’
This is the story of those early teaching years. The characters and black humour, the rawness, deprivations and an instilling of hope as much as education.
As much a social history of the time – including original letters received from parents – she deals with playground tragedy, first foreign trips and staff room politics, emerging on a career path that saw her ultimately spend 46 years as a teacher.
These recollections of inner-city secondary school life in early 1970s Yorkshire are
as poignant and entertaining as they are nostalgic.
“My story is in no way all sweetness and light, cute and slushy. It’s earthy, gritty and heartbreaking, yet at the same time rewarding, challenging, life-changing and vital…”