" Always take learning opportunities and be ready for change. I never turned down a chance to learn and ended up teaching others."

Name: Patrick Wilson

When at CCSSB: 1966 - 1971

Current role: Retired Snr Technologist, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd

Route after leaving CCSSB: 

I graduated with 5 GCSEs and started my working life in an apprenticeship with a Leyland dealership over in Hanley. Many years later I had the chance to re-educate myself and ended up with nine O Levels. By the time I was in my early twenties, I had done a lot of travelling but I never turned down the chance to learn and ended up educating others.

My last job was measuring Wigner energy in graphite for a nuclear reactor. Sounds dull until you Google 'Windscale Reactor Meltdown!' Nowadays, I occasionally write articles for antique car magazines - tracking down the brains behind the 1964 Ford Mustang and how Lee Iacocco got involved was one of my more recent projects - you can thank Roland 'Rolly' Machin for planting that seed!

What are your memories of CCSSB?

It was the Congleton County Secondary School for Boys when I was at the Box Lane school. Like many in mid-sixties Britain, I failed my 11 Plus, which meant that I was destined for blue-collar trades and the school had some excellent 'trade' teachers -Rolly Machin stands out. Many of the teachers were very passionate about their profession and I certainly remember names such as Nicklin, Stoker, Mortimer, Lees, Baker and Williams as being truly outstanding. 

If you ever wondered why the ceiling in the science Lab does not look quite right - that was me doing an experiment involving gas bubbles that got out of control in 1969.

One of my most vivid memories was the killing of livestock on the hill behind the school in early 1968. This was because of the spread of foot and mouth disease. We witnessed all of this from our classrooms… It was devastating at the time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Above all, my advice would be to always take learning opportunities and be ready for change.

Be kind to one another. Keeping an eye out for less fortunate people is a throwback to some of the less fortunate kids in my day. Poverty is just plain wrong! Now that I am retired, my wife and I give back by volunteering.  A recent encounter with a refugee family from Syria taught us a lot about the human spirit.

The UK has many challenges ahead. The difference is education. Good teachers make it contagious!

The Learning Alliance