Stories of funny teacher and funnier pupils recorded in books by former inspector from Rugby

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They’re a far cry from an official Ofsted report, but two new works by a former Rugby teacher perhaps give a more realistic account of school life.

In and Out of the Classroom and The Other Side of the Staffroom Door draw on experiences of the author, pupils and other teachers. They provided a range of tales - some touching, some humorous - with colourful detail and much to which anyone educated in or around Rugby can relate.

The books, which are compressed into a single volume, have been written by David Howe. His family attended local schools at least as far back as 1870, and he was a pupil at three schools and taught at a fourth, as well as the town’s former college. Mr Howe was also a school inspector, being appointed chief inspector for Warwickshire.

Here are some excerpts...

Discipline in absentia

PE Teacher: Now I have to go out for five minutes. While I’m away I expect you to work in silence. If I hear any noise when I return, I shall put the following three into detention:

1. Evans, T., because he’s big enough to make any of your sorry afterwards

2. Nugent, because he’s the one most likely to tell me who was responsible

3. Chilcott, because he’s bound to be one of them.

It always worked. How to delegate responsibility.

Things teachers say

Inspector in a village school, in a maths lesson:

“Why are you doing this?”

“She told us to.”

“Why is it important?”

“Because you get kept in if you don’t.”

“OK. Now, I wonder how good you are at estimating. How many cows do you think are in that field?”


“You said that without really thinking.”

“I just know.”

“How can you possibly just know?”

“They’re me dad’s.”

Rugby’s Mary Poppins

Miss Smeeton, who lived in Churchover and cycled to Eastlands every day, whatever the weather, usually in a Burberry coat, gaiters and umbrella. If it was raining, she would steer with one hand while holding the umbrella over her head with the other, inevitably recalling images of Mary Poppins. When an ex-pupil, Anne Cox, visited Miss Smeeton in retirement, by then living in Abbotsbury, Anne was gleefully pleased to note just outside her room – a Burberry coat and umbrella.

Learning how to be a Head

The opening log book entries of two new Heads give some indication of why no induction course can quite prepare for reality:

“Sept 1 1971: Today I, PJ, took over as head of the school.

Sept 7: Reported phone out of order.

Sept 8: Ditto.

Sept 9: Ditto.

Sept 13: Phone repaired and failed again.

Sept 14: Phone failed.

Sept 15: Phone failed.”

“Sept 4 1989: I am now in a position of responsbility with very little idea of what the job entails.

400 dead wasps found on the library floor.”