MR COPLAND TAPED
From the Ryhope Review Magazine 1973
The magazine committee was in some difficulty as to how to conduct the following interview with Mr Copland. Eventually it was decided to tape the interview and process the results to produce the following article.
QUESTION: As Head Teacher what are your aims for Ryhope School?
ANSWER: “Well I thinks there are 1300 aims because the needs of every pupil in the school will be different and I would hope that the school would be able to help each pupil to develop as far as they possibly can. But at the same time I feel very strongly that young people need to work and co-operate together rather than just be on their own in competition with each other”.
When asked whether he thought Ryhope School was successful as a comprehensive school, Mr Copland replied that it was not for him to say but rather for each individual parent and pupil to decide. What he did say was that the success of the school could not, in his opinion, be measured solely in terms of examination results although “our examination results have all been well up to expectations”. In this day and age Mr Copland agrees that qualifications are essential for many occupations “and any school that can’t provide those qualifications has failed, quite definitely”. “At the same time he feels the school should provide its pupils with the knowledge and skills to enable them to cope with their lives and the relationships they form after leaving school. We then asked the headmaster if he saw the comprehensive system not as a compromise in any way but rather as an advancement in the field of education, to which he replied, “Most certainly. It can do everything the previous system can do, and lots more besides”.
Mr Copland was asked what improvements he would like to see made in the school. He regards the school buildings a sub-standard in comparison with many modern comprehensive schools and points out that the school has not been re-decorated since 1967; and consequently is showing signs of wear. More money, however, is being allowed by the Education Authorities. The central heating system has been converted from coal to gas in both blocks. Old desks are continually being replaced by tables because Mr Copland thinks that desks are “outdated”. Curtains have been provided for the North Block Hall by the Ryhope School Association. An improvement which will take place in two or three years time is the proposed sixth form block which will be centred in the south block and which has already been approved by the Department of Education and Science.
The discussion moved on to cover the controversial subject of discipline in the school. On the whole the headmaster was pleased with the progress made in this area over the past four years. He conceded that in Ryhope, as with most other schools, the majority of disciplinary problems were caused by the younger pupils committing what he called minor offences such as running in the corridor, excessive noise (although he termed the crossing of the A19 rather than the bridge as an offence punishable by death. Offenders please note!) He does not believe in corporal punishment. Trivial offences he thinks should be punished by allocation of useful tasks such as picking up litter. Major offences such as bullying and petty pilfering are tackled with a view to understanding and solving the problems of the pupil concerned. Mr Copland expressed a wish to use this article as a medium to appeal to parents on the subject of bullying.
“I’d like to perhaps to use the opportunity to appeal to parents that if they do think that their son or daughter is either being threatened or bullied; or is frightened about coming to school; I do hope that they’ll get in touch with us because we have experience in solving this sort of problem in a matter of hours, with no come-back, no victimisation nothing like that”. Any school would hope to engender a certain pride and loyalty in its members. In this particular school it would seem to be indicated by the co-operation of pupils in socially-beneficial activities; also by the efforts of parents and pupils in making the Summer Fayre a successful occasion. Loyalty to the school should not mean that the school should not be questioned or criticised in any way.
“Speaking personally and from the staff side, I should hope that we shall never be satisfied with what is going on, because once one is satisfied with what is going on, complacency comes. I would very much hope that people who have got something to say and who feel that things should be improved will have the opportunity to voice their opinions and that we would try to take note of this”.