Mr John Baker Headteacher - 1986-2004
In his own words...
I joined Glebelands in January 1986 from a background of working in large, co-educational comprehensive schools in Inner London and Surrey.
I came with a strong personal commitment to the ideals of comprehensive education especially in terms of providing equality of opportunity for all children, whatever their background or abilities. Above all my belief was, and will always remain, that the young people in our care will thrive best if they are expected to contribute to the wider good and if they are encouraged to develop a sense of their own self-worth.
My first few years were somewhat of a baptism by fire, firstly because no amount of training could have adequately prepared me for the complexities of the job itself and secondly because the school and indeed the teaching profession as a whole was faced with unprecedented challenges. By way of historical interest, these were some of them:-
At the time the school had nearly 1200 students but statistics showed that this number was about to fall dramatically. This in turn would require a review of the curriculum we could offer and worst of all, an inevitable reduction of at least nine full-time teachers. The new GCSE was about to replace O-Level and CSE and a national curriculum was being proposed. Governors were to become more accountable, the inspection system was to be reviewed and Special Needs was to be given a stronger focus in schools. In addition, it was all change in the way schools were funded. We had £35,000 per annum to spend on books and equipment in 1986 but in a short time the budget would shoot up to several million pounds with new responsibilities for most aspects of the day-to-day running of the school. Furthermore, this was all taking place against the background of a bitter national dispute over teachers’ pay and conditions of work.
Looking back at my original letter of application, I see that I wrote “I readily accept the challenge which the prospect of these and other numerous innovations presents to senior management in schools”. Of course, the answer to how one rose to these challenges lay not just with the senior staff but with all those associated with the school and I was fortunate to be able to build a wonderful team of dedicated colleagues who shared my vision of what the school could achieve. With hindsight, it really was the best and most rewarding job in the world.
The students were my greatest delight. It was a joy to help them develop during their years at the school into confident young adults capable of making their own way in the world. If I need any evidence of my success in achieving this aim, it is the cheery “Hello Sir!” with which I am still greeted in the street and the lively and often appreciative conversation which follows.
I look back on my eighteen years and two terms as Headmaster (later to become a politically correct Headteacher) as some of the happiest, most fulfilling and memorable times of my life. Thank you, Glebelands - long may you prosper.
Ms Knight, Mr Cozens and Mr Baker 2009
(née Field) – Student 1968 - 1973 and Parent
My first memory on entering Glebelands in to ‘Form 1’ (now known as Year 7) was that it was such a vast and daunting building I was sure that I would get lost – much the same impression I am sure, that my own children had on commencing their first term at school. When I first entered at the age of 11, the building of North Block had only just begun, so the school was much smaller.
My headmaster throughout my time at Glebelands was Mr Wiskar, a venerable gentleman who openly smoked his pipe whilst patrolling the school grounds and buildings. Indeed, if you had some reason to avoid a chance meeting with the Head, his whereabouts could be detected by the heavy smell of tobacco on the air, an aroma which can still transport me back to my school days.
During the summer months, Mr Wiskar always wore a rose in his lapel, picked that morning whilst inspecting the gardens at the front of the school.
I believe that he and all the teaching staff were afforded great respect by all the students.
During the 1970’s ‘Women’s Lib’ was still fighting the cause for equality and so there were some differences in the way girls and boys were regarded in their education. For example, the curriculum included Chemistry and Physics for the boys, whilst the girls took Human Biology and Rural Studies. Rural Studies on fine days took us out into the school gardens (now the British Legion) to tend the produce grown and sold by the school.
Boys were also instructed in woodwork and metalwork whilst the girls were occupied with cookery (not Food Technology!) and needlework. I owe a lot to my needlework teacher as I’m sure she inspired my love of needlework and the subsequent joy I have in this craft.
Maths lessons for all involved the use of copious tables of logarithms, sine and cosine, with no trace of anything like a calculator in the classroom!
I have fond memories of my schooldays and achieved a good set of ‘O’ levels at Glebelands. However, there are far more opportunities for my own children to make choices in their education at the school. Also, careers advice is now available during the ‘teen’ years, which must give students a better focus on the future and inspiration to achieve their full potential.
Man and Boy
Adrian Erricker Pupil 1968-1974 Teacher 1999-2009
Adrian has worked, man and boy, with all the Head Teachers of Glebelands; Mr Wiskar and Mr Cozens as a student, and Mr Baker and Ms Knight as a colleague.
He, like so many others, remembers “the smell of Mr Wiskar’s pipe and the sight of his fresh rose in the buttonhole each day.” Also that Miss Dale, the Deputy Head, took over for a term between Mr Wiskar’s retirement and the arrival of Mr Cozens.
Sports played an enormous part in Adrian’s school life as his memories reveal. He thought the Sports Hall was fantastic – “until the floor got wet and slippery.” He held the 800m record for Year 7 and Year 8 for a couple of years, and the boys PE staff, Jeff Holliday and Chris Warren, were “so laid back they nearly fell over.”
Cricket was obviously important as his music report reveals: “Adrian would be good at music if he didn’t spend so much time playing cricket.”
As a cricket enthusiast, he also recalls Mr Wiskar going into “bat in the summer term and then getting out when he felt he had outstayed his welcome. He always knew when we wanted to carry on.”
Another member of staff, Mr ‘Gabby’ Hayes, gave him a copy of ‘The Laws of Cricket’ as a prize, although he doesn’t say what for! Perhaps for Maths? He must have paid attention in his own future subject, as taught by Mr Weston on the top floor of North Block.
The uniform in his time included a maroon blazer and he has it still – hanging on the back of his classroom door.
Another thing that remains from that time is the rose arch he took two years of O-level Metalwork to build. “It’s still in one piece.”
However, an important part of his school life has disappeared. Holmbury (red), Hascombe (blue), Hurtwood (green) and Leith (yellow), formed the house system in place in the early years of Glebelands. And Adrian’s allegiance?
“Come on you reds!”
While several members of staff are fondly remembered by Adrian, Mr Bill Coles, the school groundsman, gets a special mention. “A more respected man couldn’t be found. He ran the football team of the year above; they only lost one game in five years. He also had one phrase that has stuck with me: ‘Treat others as you expect to be treated yourself.’”
He made it to being Head Boy in his last year, and probably little expected to find himself in the strange position of walking “around the old school” at interview for a Maths post some years later.
When asked if the school has changed, Adrian replies: “Of course it has changed,” but “it is still educating the young people of the Cranleigh area,” and many of those who’ve been through its doors “are leading lights in the Village.”