Marked by choice

1st August 2008 at 01:00
In the second in our series on teaching dynasties, the Nobes family talks to Stephen Manning


When I was a child, the household was always full of teachers. My parents, Mike and Janet, were teachers, as was my mum's sister and their aunt. My father's cousin, Patrick Nobes, was a secondary headteacher at three schools, and his three sons are a maths teacher, a teaching assistant and a university lecturer. My great uncle Joe was a history teacher and he has two sons and a granddaughter in the profession.

My dad was head of house at Clevedon and I remember Christmas and summer staff events taking place in our home. Money was tight because of the pressure on teachers' wages so family holidays would be 10 days at a friend's house in Newcastle.

It wasn't till later, though, that I began to think about teaching as a career option. My degree was in languages, during which I'd visited Germany and spent a year there as a language assistant in a village school near Schwerin, in the north-east. I enjoyed the variety of the work, and contact with pupils.

Now I've been a teacher for 15 years and from October I will be acting assistant head. Despite the family history, teaching was not inevitable for me, but I certainly felt at home when I came to do it. My brother, on the other hand, escaped - he's an environmental health officer. We do ask him, "When will you be joining us?" But he has resisted so far.

Tim Nobes, 40, teaches languages at Kirkbie Kendal school, a comprehensive in Kendal, Cumbria


It was Joe Mullice, my uncle, who was instrumental in me becoming a teacher. He would take us on cycling tours. He was politically minded, as I am - he was regarded as a bit of a Red. I did my teacher training (in 1956-8) at Bognor Regis Community College (now part of the University of Chichester) because that's where he had been. He's 90 now and still lives in Gosport, Hampshire, where I'm from.

My son Tim is different from me as a teacher. He's braver and cheekier with pupils. Teaching styles have changed so much since I retired, all for the better I'm sure.

It's more structured now and there's a lot more preparation. When I started, I travelled up from Gosport on the Sunday, went to my lodgings and was thrown into the first lesson on the Monday, virtually without preparation. That wouldn't happen now.

Mike Nobes, 72, taught for 30 years at what is now Clevedon Community School, Bristol, before retiring in 1988


My younger sister and I both became teachers, partly because our auntie was one, and because our mother, who worked in a sweet shop, was determined that we both got qualifications so we could have careers. My sister, Paula Wadsworth, has just retired as a primary head and received an MBE in 2002 for services to education.

Tim had done the odd bit of cover in my school, and one time I said to him, "You'd make a superb teacher - but don't do it." This was because it was a difficult, transitional time in teaching - the national curriculum was coming in, paperwork was increasing, there were strikes and workload issues.

But of course, Tim ignored me and I'm chuffed to bits. I've sat in on lots of his lessons and he's terrific. My husband and I were very politically- minded: Labour Party members and, to this day, still active within the National Union of Teachers.

I encouraged Tim to become the union rep at his school, because I thought it was important, even though his school was not affected by the recent strike action.

But the most important bits of advice I gave him as a teacher were: always look tidy, and pay your subs to the Teacher Support Network every month

Janet Nobes, 70, was a primary teacher for 35 years, in two primaries in Clevedon, Bristol, including 28 years at East Clevedon Primary. She retired in 1998.

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