A gentle teacher and a wise man

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
Barry Hines's mention of Ecclesfield Grammar School sports teacher Brian "Billy" Buck revived many memories for me. Billy Buck was indeed a remarkable teacher, his qualities pointed up by the fact that while "Hinesey", a year or so below me at Ecclesfield, was keen on football, I emphatically hated it. I still do, actually.

The late Billy Buck, you see, although the archetypal Fifties sports and gym teacher, accepted each of us for what we were and took us on from there.

How did he teach me, an insecure and gawky adolescent, to do a headspring? He did it simply by breaking it down into small steps and giving constant encouragement, never poking fun even when I emerged from the manoeuvre on more than one occasion having left my specs behind somewhere along the way.

And he converted my hatred of ball games into a modest level of achievement at cross-country running.

In short, he had the kind of wise insights that are still sought after in today's schools.

Gerald Haigh. Derwent Road. Bedworth, Warwickshire

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