Growing Up

Phillip Wyatt: Tea Dance

Phillip was born in 1959 in Bristol. He attended a local special school for deaf children in Bristol from the age of two. Then at age eleven he went to a residential special school for deaf children in Surrey, continuing on to the school's residential sixth form college.

Here Phillip describes growing up in a single-sex environment.


During my first year at school we had no contact with any girls, and there was only one female teacher at the school, although there was a matron, and an assistant matron too. So, I didn’t really know anything about girls. Once every year, one of the teachers, who was a religious man, would organise a tea dance. Before the dance, we would be taught how to dance properly with a partner. This meant all the boys had to partner each other, one boy pretending to be the girl - it felt very uncomfortable. It really used to bother me. Looking back on it now, I can laugh, but at the time, I never wanted to be the girl and always wanted to be the boy. When girls came to the school, I just froze. I didn’t know how to talk to them, or what I was meant to say.

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