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Former Theale Green art teacher recalls his time at the school 50 years ago



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A former Theale secondary school art teacher has recalled his time teaching during the school’s infancy in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Raymond Gray, 77, taught at Theale Green School for 19 years from 1967 to 1986 and saw hundreds of students and teachers pass through the school during his time there.

Mr Gray began working just one day a week at the school when he began his employment 55 years ago, but he left Theale Green as the school’s head of art.

Raymond Gray in front of a large painting he made for the BBC
Raymond Gray in front of a large painting he made for the BBC

“When I first started, I was only there one day a week because in those days, the art department did not really exist,” he said. “I was teaching from a marquee on the front lawn, with the building having not long been open.”

The school was initially set up as Theale Grammar School in 1963, before becoming comprehensive and being renamed Theale Green in the early 70s.

Mr Gray said: “Starting teaching aged 21 I used to find it difficult to get into the staff room, and needed to have a prefect badge with me, as I looked like a sixth former! I still have that original badge.”

Mr Gray during his time at Theale Green
Mr Gray during his time at Theale Green

He initially trained as a potter, sculptor and painter and was one of the first to attend a Berkshire college at 16, before he went on to study for a teaching qualification during his first year at Theale Green.

“Theale Green was like home to me," he added. "I had studied at an awful secondary school and left with no O-Levels or formal education, so instead I went to night college to study art. So to end up teaching at Theale Green was incredible.”

Mr Gray also recalled how successful the art department was at the school during his time there, producing many talented creatives.

“We were churning out pupils who went onto Royal College of Art in London; Slade School of Fine Art; and Goldsmiths (University of London) and they are now some of the world’s best artists.

A group of teachers at Theale Green while Mr Gray was teaching, from left to right: Roger Taylor, Raymond Gray, Shirley Taylor, Daphne Archer, Brian Archer, Mark Keyton
A group of teachers at Theale Green while Mr Gray was teaching, from left to right: Roger Taylor, Raymond Gray, Shirley Taylor, Daphne Archer, Brian Archer, Mark Keyton

“Kevin White is one of the most eminent ceramic artists working in Australia; one was an internationally renowned potter; two went off to exhibit works of art in London; one designed bags for Gucci, and another was responsible for the Globe’s timber structure."

As well as teaching, Mr Gray also made children’s toys that were sold to London shops, created a radio show that had around 125,000 listeners, and ran an antiques business for 15 years.

Commenting on Facebook, Jan Richardson said: “I have fond memories of Mr Gray, what a great teacher he was. He also used to let us kindly sneak into the art room when the weather was awful outside!”

He currently lives in Dorset with his wife Paula and continues to teach painting.



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