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Bilborough 1957-2000
Portrait of a College

Part II - Bilborough Grammar School

The Peake Years 1962-1965

Increased pressure on accommodation (the number on roll exceeded 700 in 1963, with 185 students in the sixth form) was only partly ameliorated by the erection of two additional 'demountable classrooms' (the description used in Annual Review, 1963) timetabled in September, 1963, as Hut 1 and Hut 2. These were built to the side of the top drive, adjacent to the cycle sheds. Huts 3 and 4, two mobile classrooms, appeared on the yard in September, 1970 (when four first forms were admitted), and whilst these were 'stolen, lost or destroyed' (as Magazine No 16 expressed it) in summer, 1973, the year in which there was no first-form intake, the demountable classrooms have yet to be 'demounted'. Discussion in the Sites and Buildings Sub-committee, on the erection of house blocks to provide sixth-form and schoolmeals accommodation and changing rooms, over the three year period from 1961 began to bear fruit when the Ministry of Education approved that the work be programmed to commence in April, 1964. This latter item of welcome news was made public by the Chairman of Governors during the first Presentation of Prizes to be held elsewhere than in the intimacy of the school hall so beloved by the Head. In the new way, the morning was given over to rehearsal in the new venue and the afternoon was free. The atmosphere in the evening meeting was described in Magazine No 6.

Lively, brisk, vigorous - in such terms have many critics faintly praised the exuberance of infant Bilborough during the past five formative years, but on February 22nd in the Albert Hall, Bilborough was seen to have developed into a very modest maiden indeed, who managed her debut into polite society with a decorum that would have delighted even the primmest of maiden aunts. Indeed, the atmosphere, perhaps because the launching took place in a local bastion of non-conformism, and was graced by the presence of a leading Methodist minister, was so irresistibly that of a Sunday School anniversary that one positively heard the rustle of pastel flock nylon amid the trim ranks of blue poplin. [JOANNE MEE]

Other 'firsts' may be recorded in the distinctive style of the school magazine, here again, No 6.

Dennis Smith on gaining first prize for the whole of England in the Council of Europe's Essay Competition. Since the prize consisted of foreign travel we have obtained exclusive rights to the saga of his adventures.

the many voluntary workers who gave up so much of their time to make the fête and dance on behalf of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign such a success. They were no doubt well repaid to know that the sum of £155 was contributed to this cause.

that the Headmaster and Mrs Peake were honoured by an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party this year.

when we record our pleasure in this year's examination results. Statistics have been called the third and worst kind of 'damn lies', but figures would suggest that the examination results were the best in the school's brief history. The 92 candidates who took O-level passed in an average of 6.6 subjects each and only 5 failed to gain a certificate with 4 or more passes. At A-level the 61 candidates gained 132 passes (out of 168) and at S-level there were 9 distinctions and 12 merits. Very well done!

Though there had been a number of school trips across the Channel, the first exchange occurred in 1962, when in April of that year a party of Bilborough children, accompanied by Mr Gilliver and Mrs Lee, travelled to Ettlingen, and in August German students made the return visit. Two years on, there were exchange visits with students from the Ettlingen area again, and also with students from Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, about which one member of the Bilborough party wrote in Magazine No 7.

Yugoslavia - a land of the future, where the most frequent statements begin: 'We shall . . . ', a land where there is a surprising freedom of speech combined with a genuine desire to make all visitors welcome. A land of contrasts - an amalgam of sterile rock and lush forest; of profusely vivid alpine flowers and the frozen evolution of the caves; of startling industrial development and peasant farms.

Those of us who went were overwhelmed by the kindness shown to us by all with whom we came into contact. We were not only entertained by a magnificently varied programme of visits in and around Ljubljana, but also spent a fortnight by the Adriatic Coast where we enjoyed the incredible warmth of the sun and the sea.

In conclusion we might comment on the attitude shown to us by our hosts. We were greeted by the President of the Council, appeared on television, and were generally treated as most welcome guests. Indeed, the Yugoslavs' desire for another exchange was only equalled by our own wish to return to this delightful country. [Unattributed]

There were a number of notable 'seconds'. Dennis Smith was awarded another prize, this time a Trevelyan Scholarship (£300 pa) tenable at Christ's College, Cambridge, for his research work entitled 'Secondary Education in Nottingham'. A second Gilbert and Sullivan opera was produced by R. Protherough, The Mikado, in which the 'three little maids' (Pauline Badder, Gillian Dennis, Wendy Bignall) were exceptional - both in being fine performances and also in being the only leads played by students!! Again for a second time, a 'special holiday' was granted by the Chairman of Governors for 1963-1964 successes, the first occasion having occurred on 24th June, 1960, awarded by the Education Committee in recognition of the excellent first few years of the School's History. Recognition and reward - those were the days!!

In May, 1964, Dr Peake was interviewed at Jesus College, Oxford, and subsequently elected to a Schoolmaster Studentship tenable the following Hilary Term, and as a consequence, for the eight weeks from 18th January, 1965, Mr Ivor Williams became Acting Headmaster. Four days after his return from Oxford, Dr Peake addressed those assembled in the Albert Hall for the Annual Presentation of Prizes. After celebrating the many successes - on the sports field (six Inter-School Trophies), in service (nine gold and thirteen silver awards of the Duke of Edinburgh's scheme), in concert and on stage, as well as on the academic front - he went on to discuss the place of the modern grammar school, his views perhaps reflecting those of the Education Committee of which he was a co-opted member from 1961 to 1965.

Fundamental issues underlie the present debate about this country's educational structure -

Can we reconcile equality and excellence - is it possible to educate all ranges of ability and potential within a non-selective system and still produce an intellectual elite?

Is it possible to reconcile the demands of a technological world for specialists with provision of a liberal education?

How do we preserve and transmit the traditions and values of our society and at the same time prepare our scholars for life in the twenty-first century with its new possibilities and its new dangers?

We cannot afford to waste human talent and inventiveness. Can we then afford to abolish the grammar school? Can we afford not to do so?

Unfortunately the conflicting answers to these questions are too frequently based upon prejudice and supposition. It is however a fact that the Nottingham system of bilateral and grammar schools, with transfer into the grammar school sixth form has drawn the sting from selection, and each year proves its superiority over all the existing alternatives.

The progressive grammar school is fully aware of its responsibilities to the community. It is experimenting with new teaching techniques, modifying its curriculum, educating its students and still obtaining good examination results. It is reconsidering its social organisation in the light of the needs of the very large sixth forms. It is a dynamic institution.

For Dr Peake, it was his 'last speech' day; at the end of April he interviewed successfully for the post of Principal of City of Sheffield College of Education. His final words in the log book were as follows.

I wish to record my sincere appreciation of the hard work and loyalty of my colleagues, and the support of Governors and Parents. H J Peake, 22nd July, 1965

Here is one paragraph of the tribute paid by his successor, taken from Magazine No 8.

Through all these years Miss Thompson and I have watched, worked closely with and admired the man who was ultimately responsible for all the School has achieved, who with astonishing dynamism and comprehensive grasp of policy, organisation and timetables, designed the garden that is Bilborough. Other Headmasters will follow, but the reputation, tone and ethos that make ''us'' will remain inspired and well founded by Dr Peake.


Mike Robinson
18th September, 1999

URL: http://bilboroughgrammar.tripod.com/1957-2000/part_ii_peake_62_65.htm