Meet the teacher: Phyllis

Reminiscing with residents about their careers is a great way to get to know people and build connections between people. We’ve been reminiscing with our residents who used to be teachers. There are several teachers at The Grove Care Home in Waltham who have enjoyed getting together to talk about their time in various schools.

Phyllis Bush has lived at The Grove since April 2021. She is a local lady and was born in the nursing home in Cleethopes. She was seven when war was declared, her family stayed in Grimsby throughout the war as her father was a fireman and had to stay and continue his job, although he’d wanted to join up. After the war her father had a garden and pet shop in Scarthoe.

A family move to Oldham

When she left school Phyllis worked in bank before having children, but she didn’t like it very much. She and her husband moved to Oldham when his job, as an Electrical Engineer, took them to Manchester. She had a busy family life, but when her children were studying for their O Levels and A Levels Phyllis started studying too. She took her teaching certificate when she was thirty-seven as a mature student, studying Geography as her main subject.

At the time there was a chronic shortage of teachers with the effects of the second world war still being felt. The post-war baby boom meant there were more children in schools and they were staying in education for longer as the leaving age was raised to fifteen. The Government aimed to reduce class sizes and so encouraged married women to become teachers, although they had to campaign for equal pay with the male counterparts.

Answering a call for teachers

After qualifying Phyllis taught primary school children in Oldham for over twenty years before retiring aged sixty.  The children she taught in Greater Manchester were from many different backgrounds, mostly Pakistani and Bangladeshi. Some didn’t always speak good English.

It could be challenging, but the children wanted to learn and were very keen.” Said Phyllis. “We took the children to the local swimming pool for lessons and did PE in the hall. It was a large school with a four-form entry. There was good discipline with the headmaster only using a cane occasionally.

We used to go on school trips too. I remember on one trip we went on a bus to a wildlife park. The children were all told to be back at a certain time as the bus driver had to pick up the children after school at 4pm. But two boys did not return and kept the whole bus waiting for them. They got into big trouble when they got back as it turned out they had been in amusement arcade!”

Phyllis retired back ‘home’ to Cleethorpes, but even when living in Oldham the family would holiday in Lincolnshire. Fitties Beach at Humberstone was one of their favourite places.

The children often woke early so I took them for a walk to the beach at sunrise so they wouldn’t wake everyone,” Remembers Phyllis “They loved chasing their long shadows on the beach, that’s a memory that has always stayed with me”.

We love to hear more about our residents’ lives and discovering their fascinating life stories. For more information about life at The Grove Care Home in Waltham, contact Customer Relations Manager, Ros Wells on 01472 821127 or email

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