Jim Blance was born in South Shields, and was a pupil of
the South Shields Grammar-Technical School for Boys
from 1951 to 1958, gaining an Open Exhibition to Exeter
College, Oxford, in 1958 to study Politics, Philosophy
and Economics. After getting his BA Hons in 1961, he stayed
on an extra year to complete his Diploma in Education.
In 1962 he joined the staff of Brinkburn Secondary Modern School and a year
later the Marine and Technical College. He took his position at the SSGTSFB
in 1965 teaching History up the 5th year, as well as Economics and British Government.
It is thought that he was the only teacher at the school
to be directly related to a Peer of the Realm - he was supposedly
the nephew of Baron "Billy" Blyton of South Shields,
once the chairman of the school's board of governors, and
Labour MP for Houghton-le-Spring for nearly 20 years. However,
initial genealogical research does not support this.
Jim Blance did not have a dramatic delivery in the classroom, preferring to remain
seated and to offer perspectives. Yet he was an excellent teacher able to teach at
all levels, with his experiences at Brinkburn school (which had a reputation
of being something of a tough school) providing him with a fund of anecdotes.
His natural, relaxed style lent itself to the new sixth-form way of thinking, bridging
the gap between the didactic style of the lower school and the tutorial style that
students would face in university or college.
Many believed he would stay at the SSGTSFB for life,
but surprisingly he left in 1973 to teach in Northumberland,
where it was rumoured that he had bought a share in a race
horse (he taught at Haydon Bridge County High School).
Jim Blance died on 24th July, 2009, after a short illness.