A Lady from Howden-le-Wear, who studied at a college in Oxford, has finally been awarded a BA degree, 42 years after leaving College.
Frances Ann Johnson (64) attended Wolsingham School, leaving in 1975, after taking A levels, to train to be at teacher attending Westminster College of Education, Oxford. After three years at Westminster, she qualified in 1978, as a teacher, gaining a Certificate in Education, enabling her to teach Geography in both primary and secondary schools.
“I took a three-year course, which concentrated on how to teach your chosen subject (Geography) alongside various other minor subjects like Primary maths, art, music, PE etc. It wasn’t until two years after I left, in 1980, that teaching became an all degree profession.
“Being a Methodist, I had chosen Westminster College, as it was a Methodist College, and I had intended, when I first went to college, to use my teaching qualifications to work in the Missionary field. This did not happen, as I went on to teach at Farringtons School, a Methodist girls’ boarding school in Chishlehurst, near Bromley, where I taught for five happy years, teaching many West African children, who were far away from their homes, so my ambition was partially achieved.”
A claim to fame of Farringtons, was that it had been Carol Thatcher’s, (daughter of PM Margaret Thatcher) prep. school.
After these five years, with cooking & baking being two of her passions, Frances Ann returned to County Durham, where she retrained, gaining her City in Guilds in Catering.
At this point in her career, she was qualified to teach Geography, and what was once called Domestic Science, but then known as Home Economics. She went back to South East England, to Bromley, to teach Catering and H.E. at Buller’s Wood School for Girls.
“Here I taught catering to girls and boys from a neighbouring school, with an eye to Technical and Vocational skills. This initiative, led to an invitation to meet HM Queen and HRH Prince Philip, who came to see what was happening in education in Bromley”.
After two years, the allure of home was too strong and she returned north for good, teaching many different subjects and ages as a Supply Teacher at amongst others, St. John’s RC School and also King James School, both in Bishop Auckland. Eventually, Frances Ann became a long-serving member of the teaching staff, and for five years Head of Boarding, at the former exclusive girls’ school, Polam Hall, Darlington, from where she retired just a few years ago.
A village stalwart, she is prominent in the West Durham Methodist Circuit, has served on various village committees, including, until recently as secretary of the Village Hall Committee, and as a past Chairman, now Vice Chairman of Governors of Howden-le-Wear Primary School. She is in demand at the village Allotment Show, where she uses her culinary skills, to judge the home produce and baking section- and her help has been invaluable to the success of The Royal Tea Room at Harperley.
Although retired, she never stops for breath, always helping out with someone or some organisation, using her many skills including her Methodist values and teachings.