Eric’s return to classroom life gets full marks - The Evesham Observer

Eric’s return to classroom life gets full marks

Evesham Editorial 27th Dec, 2023   0

AN EVESHAM man has proven you’re never too old to help others learn new things after returning to the classroom after a lifetime devoted to teaching and voluntary work with teenagers.

Eric Jones started his teaching career in 1969, and even then he had already completed three years Teacher Training, and eight years working in the City of London in motor insurance.

He was almost 28 when he began teaching, and thirty-two years later he retired, having been a Head of Year, Head of various departments and Deputy Head of a large London comprehensive school.

Now aged 82, Eric has been officially retired for twenty-two years but some months ago went back into the classroom and loves every minute of it.

At the end of 2022 the Government asked if any retired teachers would be willing to return to the classroom, so that, as the pandemic was coming to an end, schools would not have to close again, assuming some teachers may still be unwell.

Eric volunteered, and since then has been asked to go and cover classes in several high schools and secondary schools, in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

For some sixty-five years since leaving school himself, and in addition to his career as a teacher, Eric has worked voluntarily with young people, first in The Boys’ Brigade and subsequently with youth and youth drama groups, wherever he and his wife have lived.

He organised a Royal Youth Gala raising a lot of money for The Save the Children fund some years ago which Princess Anne, as President, came to, at The Royal Albert Hall in London.

Eric has produced and directed shows and plays both in and outside of schools for many years throughout his career.

His first pantomime was self-written and directed as long ago as 1960!

He was in fact responsible for directing the first full length Shakespeare production – the Scottish play – at the newly built Globe Theatre on London’s south bank in the late 1990s, thanks to the opportunity being offered to the school where he was Head of Drama productions.

And since coming with his wife, Viv, to live in Evesham in 2006, he has directed over twenty shows plays and entertainments, sometimes with adults but principally with teenagers and young people.

Working alongside PODS in Pershore, and EODS in Evesham, as well as with his own drama group, The Festival Players, Eric has been responsible for musicals, pantomimes, plays and Shakespeare productions, giving young people the opportunity to perform and realise their potential.

He has also tutored many teenagers through to LAMDA (London Academy) Bronze, Silver and Gold, (Grades, 6, 7, 8) Solo Acting qualifications, giving youngsters additional UCAS points to use when applying for university places.

But there comes a time when one has to slow down, so there is not quite so much directing and producing drama at the moment. Eric is still tutoring two students for solo acting exams.

Not satisfied with any of that, Eric wrote his first novel during lockdown when drama rehearsals were not allowed.

Finding a Sovereign was published in January 2021 and, although Eric is certainly not Mary Berry or David Walliams, his book has been read by hundreds of people, in the UK and around the world, who have thoroughly enjoyed it.

But, still not satisfied, he has now volunteered to go back into local high school classrooms, where he can re-experience and enjoy his first professional love, teaching.

Eric usually manages to teach one day a week, but at 82 and with a dodgy knee, one day a week, or two at a pinch, is plenty.

Modern schools are very big with plenty of staircases! He has been at the front of science, language, IT and home economics classes, covering for absent teachers, but enjoys it all the more if he finds himself teaching mid-teens who are studying for GCSE English Literature, Religious Studies or History

If a class is studying Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or perhaps A Christmas Carol or An Inspector Calls Eric is in his element, loving it all the more.

Eric has felt it to be his vocation to help, guide and teach teenage youngsters, professionally and voluntarily, for almost two generations, and even now, in his eighties, managing to climb staircases in large schools rather slower than he used to, Eric has thoroughly enjoying his return to the classroom.

As this is written he has just had a (second) operation for a new knee and hopes to back in front of some classes, walking more easily, in the New Year.


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