Miss Wilkin

Name ID 1992

See also

Nettelbeck, David A history of Arusha School, Tanzania
Page Number: 33


In Chapter III above, Wynn Jones was delineated as a warm, friendly person who related well with a wide cross section of people and ran the school as a close knit family.

Hamshere by contrast had a much bigger enrolment, was answerable to the Director of Education, not directly to the Bishop for his management, had a rapid turnover of Government indent staff rather than a continuity of missionary personnel, and a bigger enrolment of the children of British officials.

Those who worked with him describe Hamshere as an efficient, rather impersonal man who was dominating and demanding with his staff. His nick name was "Old Pomposity" and one of his common greetings was, "I am Mr. Hamshere. I am the Headmaster". An amusing sidelight on his personality was the bell system he had connected to his study door. When a visitor knocked, a one bell-ring reply meant come in, two rings wait, and three rings go away!

It must also be said that his detailed organisation was for the benefit of the pupils and he always had their interest at heart. He knew what was going on in the classrooms, always taught some lessons himself, and did not remain aloof from the day to day activities of the children,

Some staff could not work with him and made no secret of the fact that they resigned because of the Headmaster. For example Miss Wilkin in 1949 wrote, "I am reluctant to come back for another tour under Mr. Hamshere, with whom I have had differences of opinion". But overall he was a good and powerful head who could gather loyal staff around him and work with them.

An interesting slant on the personality of Hamshere and the difficulties of adequately providing for the growing enrolments comes from the opening of a branch school 100 miles away at Oldeani in 1950. A teacher, Ryan, and his wife offered to run it because they found the prospect of having responsibility and being 100 miles remote from supervision attractive. When the Ryans were due to go on leave in 1952, a new master, Edmonson, and his wife arrived to relieve them. However Ryan considered them unsuitable to take over the "personal empire" he had built up, so he refused to hand over, locked the buildings and left for Arusha. Hamshere was not able to resolve the crisis: the Ryans went on leave, the Edmonsons resigned, and the branch school never reopened.

Hamshere was very defensive and did not accept criticism easily. In 1952, 6 members of the School Council had met privately with the Director of Education to complain about the Headmaster. When Hamshere came to hear about this he circulated to the Council a statement in defence of himself. He listed and countered the apparent objections which were:

a. that he objected to criticism;

b. that the school was not open to visitors;

c. that the standard of work was low;

d. that there was a lack of teamwork between the Headmaster and his staff.

The issue was referred to in the Council minutes 19/12/52, but had apparently been amiably resolved.

The concern of the School Council had been sparked off by a rather sharp inspectors report in 1951 which stated among other things that the students were backward in arithmetic, that the Headmaster and staff were not working well together, and that the Headmaster should spend more time checking fortnightly teaching reports and supervising the actual teaching in the classrooms.

There was no official parents' association in connection with the school, though a Tanganyika Parents Association did have representation on the European Education Authority and there was a local branch of it in Arusha. Hamshere had little time for parents who complained, particularly the parents of day pupils whom he tolerated reluctantly in the school.

The School Council recorded in 1951 the Headmaster's preference for an exclusively boarding school, and in 1960, when 27 parents of day pupils from Usa River, Tengeru and Oljoro, all about 10 miles away, petitioned that games be held earlier in the afternoons, they met strenuous opposition from Hamshere. He replied, "When a proposal for a separate day school was made several years ago, local parents turned it down; was this not a pity?" On the same issue of complaints from the parents of day pupils, the School Council reported in 1955 that the Headmaster was very defensive and stubborn.

Extract ID: 4938