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Alumni Profiles

Staff profile
Garry Holding

Garry Holding




​So my time at TASC did have a strong influence on my future life. Without it, I wouldn't have specialised in Special Education, I wouldn't have taught in behaviourally challenging schools and probably wouldn't have met the woman who was to become my wife.​

We always love hearing from our alumni, we recently heard from Garry Holding – one of our pioneers from our first cohort in 1966! He shared his memories from being here in the first ever year, how his career progressed and life after teaching.


Why did you apply in 1966 and what were your memories of being in the first ever cohort? 

Well, I had applied to other establishments via the clearing system at that time but a friend of my mother's - Dr Eva Mitchell (who had been appointed Head of Home Economics) told me of the great adventure that TASC would be and encouraged me to apply! 

My first everlasting memory was being interviewed by Sister Anna Maria and Dr Frank Bottomley in rented offices in lower Briggate and being grilled by them - especially Dr Bottomley, a former Anglican Bishop!

50 years later I can remember every detail. My home address at the time was Boggart Hill:

"What does Boggart mean?"

"Sorry, don't know, it's just my address."

"Should a teacher have an enquiring mind?"

"Yes, of course."

"But you don't know what Boggart means, so you haven't got an enquiring mind, so you won't make a good teacher, will you? Anyway, how will you cope with being surrounded by rough workmen and their cement mixers when you're trying to study music?"

"Well I work for Leeds Corporation on building sites myself to earn pocket money in my holidays and as John Cage says, we are surrounded by a soundscape of aleatoric music."


After a lot of wriggling, Sr Anna Maria came to my rescue with: "I presume you're going to offer this young man a place, Dr Bottomley?"

"Yes, Sister"


I remember the beginning of term was delayed and we were told to visit our old Primary School and were required to plough through a long list of books to keep us busy. This included Teacher, Pupil and Task, Growing up in Samoa, The Uses of Literacy, The Second Sex and Extended Family in the East End of London.

And when we did get there, X group, Y group and Z group, it really was exciting; all those newly appointed, high-flying specialists in their fields with seemingly carte blanche to test out their ideas on only too willing novice teachers - and all those wondrous educational terms of Open Periods, Closed Periods, Systematics, Taxonomies of Educational Objectives and the feeling of belonging to a large family thrown together in a challenging project. Most exciting was the fact that there were no traditions to follow, no established clubs to join & we were encouraged to start things ourselves.

My second everlasting memory was my first teaching practice in St Anne's Primary School in Bradford. As a callow only child, having attended a Catholic Primary School with a teaching staff of nuns and then St Michael's catholic grammar school with a teaching staff of Jesuits and then straight on to TASC, I hadn't realised that Dickensian conditions could still exist; scruffy children without shoes who played on the rubble of demolished houses; children who created a challenging behavioural climate!

Full of youthful social guilt and philanthropic zeal I persuaded three fellow students to raise enough money to be able to organise a fortnight's 'Adventure Holiday' in Malhamdale for 20 children chosen by the School's Head and Social worker. We learned more about children in those two weeks than we did in four years of studies! The experience also sent me to my first teaching appointment in the EPA of South Yorkshire where Northcliffe School became part of a social and educational experiment with Royston Lambert's Dartington Hall School. This was an exciting commencement to a teaching career.


TASC childrens' holiday project

What have been your career highlights and how did your career pan out after completing your course?

It was difficult for a music teacher to gain enough credibility in the eighties to be considered to have management qualities - even solid experience in two other exciting schools, a Secondary Modern turning comprehensive in rural North Wales and then Wyndham community comprehensive in Cumbria.

Another highlight was gaining a Deputy Headship at Barnard Castle Comprehensive School, but when it came to applying for a Headship four years later, Maggie Thatcher was starting to create so much turmoil in the education system that I wanted 'out', so my wife and I decided to look for fulfilment elsewhere.

We found it in moving to France, permanently, in 1989. Our children went through the French educational system and they are still here, married and working. We took French nationality and I converted to teaching English and on to teacher training. We ran a smallholding with cow, pigs, chickens and bees and my wife looked after mentally handicapped adults in our French rural home until retirement.

In my spare time I conducted a local choir and that led to another 'career' highlight when the town where the choir was based awarded me with their medal for 'Services to Cultural life' - a rare honour, I believe.


How did your time at Leeds Trinity influence your career/life?

So my time at TASC did have a strong influence on my future life. Without it, I wouldn't have specialised in Special Education, I wouldn't have taught in behaviourally challenging schools and probably wouldn't have met the woman who was to become my wife. We attended the same 'Music for Slow Learners' course at Dartington College, and we wouldn't have become a foster family for handicapped adults in France!

From a musical point of view, Paul Shepherd (Music lecturer at TASC) showed me how directing musical ensembles could be a powerful educational force, how it could change people and improve their lives and whilst teaching music was my profession, it was also my hobby and has given me a lifetime of personal satisfaction - as well as a medal!


When was the last time you visited the campus?

I haven't been back to TASC since 1970!

During our 50th anniversary year, Garry sent us in a copy of a Mountain Club flyer for an event in which he gave the toast to the guests: