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Bilborough 1957-2000
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, which

... 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 and expedient.

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 character.

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.

but added

There are those who would assess a School's worth by the breadth of its curriculum and the diversity of its activities - educating the whole person.

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 utmost importance.

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 Palace.

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.


Mike Robinson
18th September, 1999

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