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Austin Vince teaching at Kings SchoolMATHS!
Mr Vince taught us Maths. Like other academic subjects, we got Maths sometimes twice a day! Mr Vince would start every lesson by reading the register, and instead of us answering "yes Sir" or something along those lines every time, he would make us answer with something random: capital cities; world rivers; famous dead people; animal noises... whatever he declared at the start of the lesson. He was sarcastic, extrovert and simply hilarious. Our first lesson with him covered the basics of 1950s maths. He called upon everybody: "Grab your writing tools!" He then held up a stick of chalk for everybody to see, and continued: "Which in my case.. is this piece of Calcium Carbonate." He always spoke with lots of energy and had a real zest for life (and, obviously, for maths). "Right" he began. "Let's start with some basic bread and butter - long multiplication!"
 

Richard Mylles In our first lesson we were given what we believed to be a mock O-Level maths paper. Mr Vince quickly reminded us that there were 12d in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.. for the money questions. It turned out afterwards to have actually been an 11+ exam. Shockingly only about a third of us passed it. As he weaved through our desks handing our scripts out, he said: "Hang on a minute - whose is this? It says: All hail our new leader - Richard Mylles." As the class laughed (something rarely allowed), Richard Mylles put up his hand to claim it and said: "That's me Sir, but I didn't write that!" Mr Vince replied: "I know you didn't - I did. Ladies and gentlemen bow down to your new leader - 24 out of 24! Mylles, stand on your chair and let us all see how great you are." Mylles reluctantly (but laughing) stood tall on his chair. Tom Jewell cheered and the class started laughing, to which Mr Vince instantly frowned and burst out sternly: "Alright calm down - we don't want him thinking he's something special". Mr Vince often changed his mood like that, with comical effect.
 

Austin Vince collecting exam papers For many of us maths posed some difficulties. He told us that feet and inches were better than the "new" metric units, since imperial units were the widely used and widely understood conventions of the 50s. We did a lot of algebra the Mr Vince way... when you have -3 on the left hand side of the equals sign, you had to "do the switcharoo"! (This just meant put it on the other side and turn it to +3, but he made us do carry out this oh-so-simple procedure in the most long-winded way).

Talking of long-winded ways, we didn't have calculators then. Instead we were given Log Tables - small books, with pages and pages of multiplications and mathsy stuff. For us they were most useful in doing pythagoras and trigonometry, as we had to do our Sin, Cos and Tan calculations by skimming down pages (lines and lines, O - 359 degrees) and their corresponding values to four decimal places each. You do actually get the hang of them quickly enough... but give any of us a calculator any day. The mocks and the exams were indeed difficult.

Compare how we did in GCSE and O-Level Maths here.

Harry ElgoodNic HallColum Hughes Clare DerySeraphina EvansNadia Freeman
Freddie HutchinsTom JewellJoe McCready Nichola GreenhalghHenrietta HainesVictoria Julien
Richard MyllesRajay NaikBlaine Pike Hina KhanKathryn McGeoughHolly McGuire
Ryan SmithsonAndy StrattonMatthew Sweeney Emma PinchbeckHarriet RykensHannah Smith
Alistair UnwinSimon WallerAndy Walne Frances WeaverTarot WellsRebecca Woodward