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Portrait of a College
Part II - Bilborough Grammar School
The Peake Years 1958-1961
A lively discussion occurred in a staff meeting held in early 1958 when
the leading item on the agenda was 'the timetable'. It was argued that by making available
courses for the 'new' fourth year consisting of the basic subjects (English, Mathematics,
French, Religious Instruction and PE/Games) together with four subjects selected, with
strong teacher and parental guidance, by the pupils themselves, that such pupils would be
able to keep open their options - sciences v arts - until they came into the sixth-form.
The problem was, how best to divide the timetable cake? After careful study, both the
existing model of timetable, 7 periods per day, 5 days per week, and the model in which
the length of period was shortened to allow 8 periods per day, were discarded and the
'7-period day, 6-day cycle' was agreed. It was to last 16 years, following which there
came three changes in timetable in four years, as we shall see. The September term, 1958,
opened on Wednesday, 10th, or, in the new nomenclature, on Day 6.
Over the four years, September, 1958, to September, 1961, the school
continued to grow; from 18 forms (in years 1-4) to 26 (in years 1-7); from 476 pupils to
666 (thus exceeding the number anticipated in 1955 by 116); from 26 staff to 40 - see Appendix G. Extra accommodation was required and we may
read in the Annual Report, 1960, of the
adaptation of a science classroom into a biology laboratory
(B2, now C3, was extended and ready for use in September, 1960) and of
the erection of additional classrooms to provide urgently needed
general classroom and sixth form tutorial rooms.
The latter, christened the A-block, became available as a form base in
September, 1960, and a teaching space the following year.
During the Christmas holiday period, 1958-59, 30 boys and girls,
accompanied by Miss R M Betts, Miss P F Butler and Mr and Mrs A Gilliver, took part in the
Winter Sports at Kitzbūhel, Austria. On the second school overseas trip, three months
later, a similarly sized party, guided by Mr and Mrs R Protherough, Mr and Mrs D K Rowat,
Miss R M Betts and Miss A E Thompson, visited Rome and Naples. The first Speech Day
occurred in the school hall in the evening of 20th February, 1959, with the Lord Mayor,
Alderman J Littlefair giving the address and the Lady Mayoress distributing the prizes. In
his Report, Dr Peake welcomed the guests, and then spoke about the purpose of a school,
... must first and foremost concern itself with the welfare of its scholars,
individually and together - I use the word 'welfare' in the fullest sense: the prosperity
of the physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual life of the boy or girl. If the school
is successful in this, the true interests of the parents and the community (local and
national) will be satisfied. These interests are not necessarily the immediate and
transitory demands which society may make; they are cultural and moral as well as economic
Having recalled the highlights of the two years since his appointment,
the Head went on to speak about the curriculum in its widest sense:
... each boy and each girl is an individual with a distinctive personality requiring
nurture, and a diversity of interests to be encouraged. Consequently a wide range of
out-of-school activities and an extensive choice of subjects must be provided, so that
each child may have the opportunity to develop its varied interests and to realise its
true potential as a person. Supreme in its importance is the development of the virtues of
integrity, reliability, loyalty and a sense of responsibility to the community, be it
home, school, city or country - the world - in short, the development of Christian
The programme of music and choral singing, conducted by Mr I J
Bartlett, with accompanist Mr J I Williams, included piano solos by Raymond Parkin and
Jennifer Mogg, and a Chamber Music Group comprising Carole Butler, Valerie Case, Alan
Gill, Philip Joslin, Sheila Beeson and David Border. The evening concluded with the
audience participating in the hymn 'Glory to Thee my God this night' by Thomas Ken, to
music by Thomas Tallis.
Dr Peake's next public appearance was not nearly so pleasant. He
attended at the Juvenile Court during the prosecution of three Bilborough boys for
shoplifting, something which reflected badly on the school and deeply saddened the Head.
A fifth-form year stepped over the threshold for the first time in
September, 1959, and eleven weeks to the day a number of them found themselves sitting
O-level examinations in English Language, Mathematics and French. All, however, were
examined in the summer with very encouraging results. In his Report, 13th October, 1960,
Dr Peake said
For some, academic achievements are the yard stick of success. Of 102
candidates, 99 obtained General Certificates of Education and 87 of them had passes in
four or more subjects. The standard reached by many of our students was very high and
augurs well for the Sixth Form. Some of the scholars, who came to us from Secondary Modern
Schools at the age of thirteen plus, acquitted themselves well, obtaining 92 passes out of
a possible 96. It is my opinion that a Grammar School child of average ability ought to
obtain a General Certificate of Education in at least four subjects. But hard work,
persistence and, above all else, parental interest and encouragement are essential.
There are those who would assess a School's worth by the breadth of its
curriculum and the diversity of its activities - educating the
The year has seen a forceful and competent production of 'She Stoops to Conquer' and a
boisterous, enjoyable presentation of 'Toad of Toad Hall'. Both the Christmas and the
Summer concerts given by the School Music Department, aided by guest artistes, reached a
very high standard and were much appreciated by the audiences. The work of our own Art
Department, displayed with that of other schools at the District Bank, South Parade, was
most favourably commented upon by those who saw it. The importance of such cultural
activities in the life of a school cannot be overstressed.
The guest speaker on this occasion was Sir John Hunt, and such was the
clamour for tickets that an 'over-spill' audience was accommodated in the gym . . . but
the sound-relay system failed!! 'Sincere apologies' were tendered in the report in
Magazine No 4, part of which is reproduced here.
Sir John Hunt also made success the theme of his speech. Beginning with congratulations
to prizewinners (and their parents) he said how impressed he was by the "Effort"
prizes - success or failure in a venture was measured by the effort put into it and by the
example set to others. Thus, although the expeditions of both Mallory and Scott had
failed, each had set a great example and though the first moon-rocket was 1,000 miles
short of its target, it added to the eventual triumph. Nevertheless, Sir John went on,
moon-rockets and other scientific advancements were useless if there was war on earth.
Today we faced the problems of preserving freedom and giving an effective leadership in
the face of opposition and apathy: young people could criticise now if they were able to
do better later. But they must remember that on the stage of life one is not a bystander
but an influence on others by one's endeavours. [JOANNE MEE]
Further highlights in the academic year, 1960-61, included the warmly
acclaimed presentations of Romeo and Juliet (producer J M Pick) and The Pirates of
Penzance (producers W Bristow and R Protherough), and the International Rugby debut at U15
level by Barry Johnson for England against Wales at Twickenham. Miss G D Rattray toured
the United States as a member of the English Hockey team.
In September, 1961, the School reached maturity in the
sense that it now accommodated pupils and students in all years, 1-7. The fourth/fifth-
and sixth/seventh-form option schemes were beginning to settle down - see Appendix H. Russian was introduced to one class in year
2. So many were the prize winners, and parents wishing to see their offspring duly
honoured, that Speech Day was divided into Senior and Junior sections. In his address to
those present at the Senior Presentation of Prizes on 13th October, 1961, Dr Peake had a
building programme in mind when he said
... I earnestly wish for facilities for our Sixth Formers which are really appropriate
to modern conditions. Sixth Formers are young men and women and I should like to see them
enjoying the social amenities of their own common room where they can work, relax and feel
themselves to be of some consequence.
Even more importantly he spoke passionately about 'the flight from the
classroom' of academically able girls.
The powerful influences of our materialistic society, of the mass media and an
exaggerated emphasis on sex certainly do not help the home and the school to maintain
right standards of conduct or the scholars to cultivate worthy ambitions. The appeal of a
more adult world with its apparent freedom from discipline and restrictions and above all
financial independence of one's parents is very real. When your status is assessed by the
clothes you wear, a steady boy friend and an early marriage, it is an act of considerable courage
for a girl to remain at school to study. The conscientious Sixth Former works longer hours
at her studies than her contemporary at the factory bench or office desk and some sacrifice
of leisure activity is inevitable.... The need for social workers, nurses and teachers is
already serious and the community cannot afford to allow the ability of these girls to be
wasted. It is also sadly true that there are still people who consider it unnecessary to
educate a mere girl. We cannot over estimate the influence of a mother over her children,
a wife over her husband and for this reason alone, the education of young women is of the
There are those who consider that the reluctance of girls to remain at school is
largely due to the fact that children are maturing earlier than they did a decade or so
ago. The problem of disciplining the powerful forces which are unleashed during
adolescence has always been with us. The new and significant factor is the loosening of
moral restraints, the decline in and even denial of, the authority and influence of home,
school and church. The maxim 'everyone does it, why shouldn't I?' is often the basis on
which decisions are taken, not considerations of right as against wrong. When one
considers the many adverse influences, it is a source of pride, joy and wonder that our
youngsters are as sensible as they are.
In summer, 1962, came the first A-level examinations in the 'new'
Bilborough Grammar School, interrupted for some by a rather special visit to the capital.
Magazine No 5 tells the story.
The presentation at the Palace
ON Friday, 15th June, ten senior boys travelled to London with their
parents to receive the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award from Prince Philip at Buckingham
The afternoon was uncomfortably hot when the 472 of us who were to receive the award
assembled in regional groups of about 20, forming a huge semi-circle on the lawn at the
back of the palace. At 2.30 pm, the Prince appeared on the terrace accompanied by Sir John
Hunt and the two moved round the groups. From each group, one girl and two boy
representatives were chosen who shook hands with the Duke and received the awards on
behalf of the whole group. Most of those present were scouts, guides and Boys Brigade
members, all of whom wore uniform. Our group, North Midlands II, also contained a small
party from Stanton Ironworks and a single Lincolnshire schoolboy.
Having visited each group well within an hour, the Duke made a short speech in which he
said that one of the principal aims of the scheme was to introduce young people to
interesting pursuits which they would not normally have taken up. He concluded with a plea
that we, who had now gained awards, should help and encourage others to take part in the
scheme. He then re-entered the palace and we were given a short time in which we could
walk round the gardens.
From the little I saw of the palace and gardens, I can understand why the Queen intends
to spend more time at Windsor. Apart from some fine trees and a few flamingos on the lake,
the palace has far less to offer the visitor than Wollaton Park; two unsightly
skyscrapers, recently erected, overlook the rear lawn.
We wish success to all still taking the award and would like to thank the lecturers and
organisers who have made this scheme possible. [ANTHONY WAGG]
The ten were Peter Hill, Michael Roper, Anthony Wagg, Peter White, Iain Harrop, Dennis
Smith, Robert Lane, Richard Harwood, Robert Oscroft and Paul Orchard.
18th September, 1999