The Hartlepool school head teacher who was an educational pioneer

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Memory Lane is reaching far and wide with its appeal for readers to get in touch.

And we love the fact that our stories are still being read, years after they were first published.

Our 2015 report which led to Clive Payne coming forward.

Our 2015 report which led to Clive Payne coming forward.

This time, we are indebted to Worcestershire man Clive Payne for contacting us with his memories.

He read our article from 2015 which was all about Cecile Beales. She was the headmistress of Dyke House School in the early 1960s.

Our original report told how she was regarded as the first of her generation to encourage parents who “interfered” in education. She wanted it. She wanted parents to have a say and make difference.

Cecile had her own strong views on 1960s Hartlepool. She loved it enormously even though it badly needs some new shops and a theatre, she said.

Children have to be quite submissive in school because that is the way of life when in education but she believed in giving children responsibility to equip them for the things in later life.

Clive Payne

Cecile was a railwayman’s daughter whose Christian name came from a French woman who her dad and a comrade in arms helped during the Second World War. They repaired her cafe and her dad’s friend married Cecile and settled in France.

Cecile’s father promised that if he ever had a daughter, he would name her after the woman in France who he helped.

It was a lovely story and we appealed for help from other people who remembered her.

Clive did and told us: “I do because she was the headmistress of my comprehensive school, Sharmans Cross Secondary School in Shirley, Solihull in the West Midlands.

“I originate from Shirley and I was at Sharmans Cross from the ages of 11-16 in 1978-1983.”

Cecile was headmistress of the girls’ school before it combined with the boys section to form the comprehensive school and she headed it all.

Cecile, he said, was “a formidable character but she was very firm but fair, with a modern approach to education delivery”.

Clive said Cecile “believed in giving children responsibility to equip them for the things in later life. She operated from the lower school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the upper school on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays”.

He added: “I remember one day when I was 11, so in my first year there, I was sent to her office and like everyone in my class I thought I had done something wrong, but this was not the case.

“She asked me to run an errand for her, which meant going to the local shops. She gave me the money for whatever it was and my job was to go and get it and come straight back with the change, which I duly did.

“This was the first in many errands that I ran for her over the years and demonstrated that she could trust me.”

Watch out for more of Clive’s memories next week.