‘In China, becoming a teacher is held in the same esteem as being a doctor’

Having visited several schools in Shanghai last week– I feel we have plenty to learn from the Chinese, but without any need to feel in awe of their education system or to suffer from any inferiority complex. In fact, I found English education is held in very high esteem,” Thomas Hardye School Head Teacher Mike Foley told the Annual Reunion Dinner of the Old Hardyeans at Dorchester.

Michael Foley had just returned from a trip to China with three other UK Head Teachers, invited to look at the Chinese educational system. He quickly discovered his hosts knew all about the successes of Thomas Hardye School. In a passionate speech, Mr. Foley continued: “The Chinese have problems with creativity and individualism, but do have an amazing hunger for education. In China, becoming a teacher is held in the same esteem as being a doctor. We hope to start a pupil and teacher exchange with China next year.”

“There is a crisis in teacher recruitment in this country, we find it very difficult to bring in good teachers,” Mr. Foley concluded. “We are an outstanding school, because we have outstanding people working here! Thomas Hardye School is always looking to go forward and looks to the future, but never forgets where we came from.”

Over 75 pupils and ex-pupils gathered at the Thomas Hardye School for the Annual Reunion Dinner of the Old Hardyeans, the old boys of Hardye’s School. alongside some former scholars of the Green School [Dorchester Grammar School for Girls] and the Secondary Modern School, as well as students of the modern Thomas Hardye School, all under the wider auspices of the Hardyeans Club.

Old Hardyeans President Tony Day rose to welcome the representatives of Thomas Hardye School staff and pupils. “I thank Mike Foley for his most inspiring speech and want to thank members of the Hardyeans Club Council for all their work during the year.” The President revealed that the Hardyeans Club Charitable Trust had awarded 38 bursaries to pupils, totalling £79,000. In the coming year, the bursary will be increased to £1,000 a year and will be awarded to ten or twelve pupils.

Guest speaker Nigel Jones, a Yeovil surveyor living in Cattistock, was Head Boy at Hardye’s School in 1974. He recalled it was 50 years since he joined Hardye’s Junior School, then at at Wollaston House. He ranged over a number of old school magazines- the Durnovarian– from that era, one mentioning that life membership of the Old Hardyeans then cost seven pounds, seven shillings! In 1968, he recalled that former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had been the guest speaker at the annual prizegiving. Finally, he put forward his personal view that the original school had in fact been founded in 1579, not 1569 as is generally quoted.

Master of Ceremonies and Chairman Godfrey Lancashire oversaw toasts to The Queen, Thomas Hardye School, the Hardyeans Club and Absent Friends.

“The Annual Reunion Dinner draws and unites Old Hardyeans from all over the South and South West, who travel to Dorchester to meet their contemporaries,” comments Old Hardyeans Secretary Michel Hooper-Immins. “I left Hardye’s School 52 years ago in 1965, but one of the great successes of the Old Hardyeans old boys’ association is that so many of those friendships made a half century and more ago are still going strong. A dozen of the current school join us and get on well with those who were at Hardye’s School 40, 50, 60 or even more years before them. Long may we continue these splendid reunions and remain such firm friends.”

Founded 112 years in 1905 as the Old Grammarians, the Old Hardyeans- also known as the Hardyeans Club- is one of the most successful old school associations in the county, bringing together the old boys of Dorchester Grammar School and Hardye’s School, plus ex-students of the modern Thomas Hardye School. In the times of Queen Elizabeth I, it was Thomas Hardye [with a final “e”] described as a Yeoman of Frampton, who endowed and founded Dorchester Grammar School in 1569. Hardye’s [shopping] Arcade today stands on the site. The Grammar School moved to Culliford Road in 1928- renamed Hardye’s School from 1954. The new Thomas Hardye School in Queens Avenue opened in 1992, encompassing the best traditions of the two previous schools- but admitting girls for the first time since 1569! Writer Thomas Hardy OM, who lived at nearby Max Gate, laid the foundation stone of Hardye’s School in 1927. He was no relation to Thomas Hardye, founder of the school, nor of Admiral Thomas Masterman Hardy!

Michel Hooper-Immins