Iain Campbell has been teaching at Radley for 25 years. We tracked him down in the Classics Department and asked him to cast his mind back to his first visit here.
I grew up in Oxfordshire, going to school in Burford, so I knew of Radley before I joined. The first time I set foot here was playing cricket for Oxfordshire in 1988 against Transvaal Under 13s! I’d always thought I might well end up teaching, and after my degree in Classics I took a gap year and taught at a couple of schools in Cambridge and really enjoyed the boarding school environment. Early on in my PGCE course, two jobs came up at the same time, one at Radley and one at Eton and I had interviews for both. I got the Radley one, not the Eton one. Strangely enough, the guy who got the Eton job is still there as well.
I arrived in 1997 and immediately felt at home. I got married in 1999 and my wife, Sam, was working at a school in Wiltshire so I moved to Marlborough. Sam then got a job here, so after a year I moved straight back to Radley – which suited me fine! Sam was Director of Drama here for four years before we had children.
What has it been like raising your family here?
It’s been great – loads of safe, beautiful space and a lovely community. The only downside is the fact that you live in a bit of a bubble.
What’s kept you here for 25 years?
I enjoy the classroom, and coaching games – rugby, hockey and cricket – I think I’m up to a total of about 70 teams over the years. I’ve taken Colts 2 (Under 16) cricket for 22 years in a row. I find you get more out of the boys in the classroom if you know them from the pitches and I enjoy being able to make a difference with the lower teams. Last year I had a Midgets 6 team (Under 14) with a range of different nationalities and boys who had never played rugby before, but they were athletic, listened well and were really enthusiastic, so we ended up with a really rewarding unbeaten season.
Another of your passions is music – tell us about that.
I freely admit to knowing nothing at all about music, but I’m a huge fan of Alternative Rock and Metal. I run Rock Soc which is pretty niche. It’s good fun and provides a nice home for a great mix of boys across the age groups.
What makes Radley a special place for you?
One of the best things about working here is the number of interesting and knowledgeable people in a range of fields. I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm and helpfulness of everyone who supports the teaching – Maintenance, IT, Grounds, Housekeeping, the Catering staff. I spend a lot of time on the sports fields and Radley’s pitches are without doubt the best I’ve seen anywhere. We are very lucky.
And day to day, what do you enjoy most?
Lessons and matches that just happen to go well, Common Room cricket and relaxing with colleagues or with boys in Social are all highlights for me. I’ve been attached to A Social since 2001 so I’ve seen a lot of boys through there and am on my fourth Tutor. I’ve never really known a job where you have a weekend, but the long weeks (and long Saturdays!) are balanced by the long holidays.
You’re Head of Classics – tell us about the academic side of life.
All Shells sit a Latin assessment when they first arrive as we tend to have a mix of abilities and experience, and then the setting is very fluid. Some beginners are very good linguists, but some are better suited to studying Classical Civilisation topics. Latin in the early stages can often suit the boys who are good at Maths – it’s quite logical and you can learn the patterns and apply them. Greek is also offered but isn’t for the faint hearted. We hope to get a GCSE set of eight or so, of whom two or three may go on to do A-Level. A few go on to study Classics at Oxbridge so it’s always a joy to see that progress.
What changes have you seen in your time?
The backgrounds of the boys are more varied than they used to be, which results in a much broader range of outlooks, so that is definitely a positive change. There are more specialist sports coaches and the standard of facilities has increased hugely. IT provision has transformed out of all recognition in 25 years.
Can you pick a highlight from your 25 years here?
A personal highlight was one of the Dons’ Plays from about 18 years ago – Sam directed a small cast in the first two acts of Noises Off. Many of the actors were very accomplished, it was good fun, the boys loved it and it was an amazing experience to be a part of – I still have great memories of it.