Saying times table backwards earnt me a silver coin
Retired teacher and boarding kennels owner Christine Hubbard started picking up tips on tutoring youngsters while she was still at junior school herself, as she tells Jenny Amphlett.
Christine Hubball was baffled when her headmaster came into her classroom during the 1950s and said there was a telephone call for her – as she didn't know anyone who owned a phone.
The 68-year-old, from Sandy Lane, Werrington, was a pupil at Eastwood Junior School, in Hanley, from 1951 to 1955.
She says: "He came into class and said: 'Christine, come into my office, there is a telephone call for you.'
"I was astounded. I didn't even know anyone who had a telephone. Who could possibly be ringing me?
"I just sat at my desk dumbfounded. 'Come on, quickly', he said. I followed.
"Was this a joke? He often joked. Did he want a cup of tea? I made the tea for him and the teachers at playtime. But it wasn't playtime.
"It was Wellington Road School on the telephone. My younger brother had fallen in the playground, broken his ankle and fractured his leg.
"They needed to contact our mother. My brother knew where she worked, at Johnson Bros, but they must have employed hundreds. How many Mrs Jones would they have?
"They asked my brother what her first name was and he said: 'Mum'. They tried a different tack and asked what my dad called her. He said: 'Duck'.
"Fortunately, being older, I knew her name. It was Florence."
Christine, a retired teacher and boarding kennels owner, was prompted to share her memories after reading other recollections about Eastwood School and teacher Mr Skitt.
"I was at the school six years before Pamela Walker, but Mr Skitt's lessons didn't seem to have changed very much," she says.
"We also had mental arithmetic first thing, then tables, then maths, then play time. After play it was English.
"One day Mr Skitt said he would give a silver 3d piece to anyone who could say the alphabet backwards.
"That night I wrote it out and went over and over it backwards. I got my silver 3d.
"Mr Skitt said he would give me another if I could now say it forwards. Could I boot! I had to re-learn it the proper way. I can now do it both ways. Which is quite useful sometimes."
Like other readers, Christine remembers accompanying Mr Skitt on Saturday morning walks.
"I loved them. It gave me a love of my native area, the countryside, the wildlife and water," she says.
"Not many teachers would give up their Saturdays to take a gang of kids out.
"I also went to London with Mr Skitt and his class. The thing that really stuck in my mind was all the devastation, the bomb damage.
"I felt very sorry for all those Londoners and very relieved I lived in Hanley.
"I re-visited London years later and was very impressed by the change. It was wonderful, and left Hanley in the dust. I wouldn't like to live there though."
Christine had been nervous about having Mr Skitt as her class teacher, due to his reputation for being strict.
"I was really worried about going into his class. But I thoroughly enjoyed it when I was there. He was nice really.
"Any boys who misbehaved were caned. They all knew it, so there was very little bad behaviour.
"The girls weren't caned. They were made to stand under the clock in the hall with their hands on their heads.
"I only had to do it once. It was terrible. All the children who walk past you stared at you as though you had done something really terrible and the teachers who walked past all tutted.
"Worst of all, you were missing what was going on in your class, which was usually interesting and entertaining.
"You did as you were told, you listened, and you learned. It was a good system."
Classmates she recalls include Joseph Bratt, Linda Lyons, John Barcroft, Robert Lakin, Barry Mumford, Michael Hilditch, Erica Markwell, Shelia Jones, Jacquelyn Ford, Christine Eardley and Evelyn Birmingham.
The headmaster was Mr Rhodes. "He was lovely. He came into class one day when we were knitting egg-cosies. He said they weren't big enough to fit his hen eggs. They didn't go on our eggs either. They were never left long enough."
Other teachers she remembers include Mrs Morris, who Christine was afraid of.
"She took us for needlework and I was hopeless at it. The cotton always got into loopy knots and she kept making me undo it and do it again.
"It seemed to take a whole year to make one gingham apron. It looked better when it was washed and ironed."
There was also Mrs Mosely, Mr Turnock and music teacher Mr Sherratt.
"I liked all of those, but Mr Skitt was my favourite," she says.
When Christine later became a teacher herself she adopted some of Mr Skitt's techniques.
"I used some of his lessons, particularly mental arithmetic and tables.
"I was criticised for being old-fashioned, but it worked so why change it?"
Christine is married to Brian and has two daughters and two grandsons.
Would you like to share your own schoolday memories? Write to Jenny Amphlett, including your full name, address and telephone number, at: Features Desk, The Sentinel, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 5SS, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org