Life-long learning

“From 1953 to 1955 I attended evening classes where I gained passes in English, Mathematics, Engineering Drawing and Engineering Science in the East Midlands Educational Union Examinations.  Between 1950 and 1953 I also attended evening classes run by the Workers’ Education Association for courses on Youth Leadership and Industrial Psychology.  During the academic year 1967-68 I went to Fircroft College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, where I took a full-time course in Liberal Studies.  In the following twelve months I gained five passes in the ‘O’ Level of the General Certificate of Education, and was subsequently accepted as a student on the Trent Polytechnic three years’ teacher training course which ran from 1969 to 1972.  My main subject on this course was Mathematics.”  George’s cv.



In 1942 George was studying electrical engineering at Kingston Technical School in Jamaica.  In 1944 he joined the RAF, and received further training as an electrician, as a radar operator, and as a metal worker.  Once he was settled as a civilian in this country he worked as an electrical engineer.  In his spare time he was always involved in furthering his skills in order to play his part in various political and community activities in the most effective way, including studying at evening classes.



Evening class courses


In the 1960s he decided to make a career change, to become a mathematics teacher.  In order to obtain the qualifications required for a teacher training course he gained a place at Fircroft College, Selly Oak, Birmingham.


Fircroft College, Selly Oak


Fircroft College and its origins as told by the Cadbury family


"George Cadbury Junior […] started Fircroft in 1901, largely influenced by a teacher Tom Bryan who became the first warden.  He was also impressed by Danish High Schools.  The main objective was to help adults of all ages, who had missed out on education, go back to their work with the benefit of a liberal education.  His interest in adult education must have been influenced by his father […] who after work used to travel into Birmingham to teach in the poorer areas, who introduced the ground breaking inclusion of Adult Education for his employees of the chocolate factory [...]  Quite amazingly, the foresight of George Cadbury has stood the test of time and the college’s purpose and ethos has largely remained unchanged.  One change, however, is that education now has a focus on short courses, but the liberal bias is still there."


(Extracted from:  Wikipedia - Fircroft College - accessed August 2021.)



Fircroft College, Selly Oak 1967 intake

George is 4th from the left on the second row from the front.



GCE qualifications



He was then offered a place at the then Nottingham Trent Polytechnic (now Nottingham Trent University), where he qualified as a mathematics teacher in 1972.


Teaching certificate and DES letter




Teaching and retirement


Maths teacher 1972 to 1982


He taught at the Robert Mellors Secondary School (which later became Arnold Hill Comprehensive School when most high schools in most English counties were abolished), Arnold, Nottingham until April 1982, when he took early retirement. During that period he continued to study other subjects by himself.  Notable examples were accounting techniques, and company, licensing, and immigration laws.  When the Afro-Caribbean Centre was set up he knew how to negotiate the lease for the building and licensing applications with the local authority, to draw up Articles of Association, to understand stocktaking methods, to do the accounts, including HMRC returns, and to draft rules of membership.


He advised other groups and organisations on these matters.  He kept up to date with the changing ramifications of immigration law, knowing exactly which documents, letters and other information Jamaican people living here needed to provide when they were trying get visas or passports.  Other examples of help he could give, because he learned the rules, were advice for people who were being divorced, taking out loans or hire purchase agreements, dealing with debt, or having difficulty in negotiating their children’s rights in educational matters.  He also read widely in fields such as psychology, mental and physical health, and, of course politics.