Mike Rimmer was the Head of History at Evelyns High School in West Drayton for 15 months in the early 1990s. At the time of his appointment, in the spring of 1991, the school was due to close at the end of the next academic year but the local authority had a change of heart and it remained open. Many years later Evelyns was rebranded as Stockley Academy and a state of the art building was erected to replace the old one.
Evelyns, which had about 600 students while Mike was there, is located in an area that contains pockets of social deprivation. But it had a nucleus of competent, dedicated teachers (some of whom are still there) and, thanks to them, the students had plenty of opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge that would stand them in good stead when the time came for them to venture out into the real world. Many youngsters thrived at Evelyns and were a delight to teach but a significant number were hostile towards formal education and, come what may, were determined not to avail themselves of the opportunities on offer. In many cases their truculent attitude was enthusiastically endorsed by their parents!
The highlight of Mike’s spell at Evelyns was playing a bit part in a school camp on the Isle of Wight. It took place in July 1992 and was masterminded by Mike Goodhall, who taught manual training at Evelyns. During his 20-year stint in Queensland, and in his subsequent years in Togo, Mike Rimmer organised dozens of trips of his own but none was more inspirational than this one. Unfortunately, the negatives of the photos Mike took at the Isle of Wight camp have gone missing so he was unable to include any images of that wonderful event on this website. Similarly, the negatives of Mike’s school excursions to Wembley to watch football internationals, to Harefield to attend an Anzac Day celebration and to Central London have gone walkabout too.
The most challenging aspect of teaching at Evelyns was having to come to terms with the demands of the National Curriculum – with its attainment targets, levels of achievement and other such meaningless nonsense. In an effort to return to what he enjoyed doing most – teaching History, coaching football and organising visits to places of historic interest – he moved to Togo, in West Africa, and taught for 11 years at the British School of Lome. Life there had its drawbacks – there were frequent power cuts, the water supply was erratic, malaria was rife and every now and then political violence would break out and dead bodies would start piling up in the streets – but at least he was spared the never-ending deluge of government initiatives, each more half-baked than the one before, and as a result he and his students thrived … but that’s another story!