News December 14, 2018 by

St Giles

How things have changed…

After an amazing 30 years with St Giles, we will soon be saying goodbye to Sue Laker, Senior Registrar at St Giles Brighton, when she retires. Sue has been an essential part of the St Giles team and will be greatly missed when she retires.

As she has been with us so long, we asked Sue for her thoughts on what has changed in those 3o years.

“A lot has changed at St Giles in 32 years!   The school and the way we work have been changing all the time – improving and developing.

“When I started at St Giles in August 1986 there were just 4 of us in the school office:  myself, the Accommodation Officer, the Director of Studies and the Principal! There were no computers and each student had a card on which their personal details and payments were recorded.   Correspondence was put into folders which were filed in cabinets and all enquiries were noted in a hard-backed book! Shorthand came in useful as the Principal, Brian Graver, used to dictate letters quite often.

“The Registrar did all the enquiries, enrolments and other administration –  selling course books, booking social activities, receipting payments, doing the banking, creating certificates etc etc! As student numbers grew I could no longer keep up so another Registrar, Ann, was appointed and an assistant Accommodation Officer too.

“Because we were a small team we had more direct contact with the students and laughed together at some of their errors (“We came to England by hoovercraft”, and “I did my housework on the beach”!)

“The biggest change was probably technology. We used Word Processors until 1991, when the first Infospeed computer system arrived and Ann and I had a crash course in setting up and operating the system. After 2 days both of us were totally dazed and making appointments to have our eyes tested! The current Microsoft system arrived in 2001 and Ann and I had a mammoth task of manually copying over all the students who were currently enrolled, together with all of their details.

“Around the same time the school got its first fax machine. Prior to that, if something was urgent we sometimes received telegrams from a central office in Brighton.

“We have grown from one building at Marine Parade to 3 buildings plus the Platinum Centre (that was also a new development about 15 years ago) and student numbers have grown hugely.  

“In the 1980s there was a school bell which rang at the start and finish of every lesson.

“In the early 1980s, school Christmas parties saw all the staff gathered round one large table in the basement ‘canteen’ and there was an Annual Christmas Party for all the students where both staff and students did a turn. That custom only ended when the student population became too big to fit into one location and health and safety became an issue.

“There have been so many changes, improvements and developments over the years – I’m sure I could write a book about them if I tried!  It has been a joy to see students coming to Brighton with very low levels of English and leaving with confident fluency and having made many new friends. It is also lovely when they come back to see us and tell us how they have used their English skills to obtain exciting jobs and further their careers.  

“Certainly when the time comes to retire I will miss the buzzing atmosphere at St Giles and the ‘family’ feel of the group – and of course the lovely staff and students!”

Thank you Sue, for your hard work over the years, you will be missed by both staff and students!