End of Tripod material
  Previous | Contents | Next

Bilborough 1957-2000
Portrait of a College

Part VI - Bilborough College 1987 - 2000

Bilborough from January, 1969 - Julia Brailsford
Drama & Theatre At Bilborough - Gilly Archer
The trick is not to stop the sliding but ... - Jim Harmes
Reflections on Bilborough College - Peter Jones
Liaisons - Sue Phillips
Pastoral Care - Dorothy Mountford
From the Chair - Alan Hawksworth
The Spirit Lives On - Martin Slattery


Bilborough from January, 1969

Julia Brailsford (Chemistry, 1969 - present)

It was thirty years ago, in January, 1969, that I first joined the staff at Bilborough. The headmaster, Ivor Williams, met me in the Nurseryman pub in Beeston and took me along to the interview. The school had achieved academic soundness under the rule of the legendary Dr Peake; its tradition for even-handed fairness and friendliness could perhaps be attributed to Mr Williams. He coped manfully with difficult times (this was the era of the flower children) and resorted to the grand piano in times of stress.

Bilborough was a grammar school, although Nottinghamshire had an enlightened and generous policy towards the eleven-plus, which meant that the intake was relatively broad based. After working in London in my first job it was a huge change. These pupils were friendly, easy going and frequently a little lazy. Since this was the Sixties, most of the older ones who chose Chemistry were boys. Actually, on reflection, apart from the gender balance, little has changed. In those days we kept the same people in our tutor groups throughout their school careers, which I think helped us to cope the better with adolescent crises. Long hair was a major issue, passionately argued over; poor Ivor ended up in the national press over this, though no one could have been more anxious to be fair and to see the students' point of view.


As a young teacher I had a very enjoyable time. The pupils were enthusiastic and eager to impress and my colleagues were sociable. There were a number of teachers around my own age, many of whom have proved to be life long friends. Among the senior staff, Roy Downing, Head of History, was forthright but kind. He would regale me with stories of misdeeds when young (exploding inkwells using carbide) and pungent reflections on present day youth. Academic gowns were worn at assembly, and even lessons by some staff. A list of people I remember with affection could never be complete. We were vastly entertained by the English Department (not much changes!), Brian Binding and Mick Saunders are names to conjure up memories, John and Ruth Kendrick were ever hospitable, Marion England and Cynthia Allsop, good companions. The Head of Maths, Sid Redding, was a staff room legend. In Religious Education, David Day was funny and a pleasure to know.

We all took part in extra curricular activities; I expect that too helped to create the Bilborough atmosphere. I joined the choir. I remember singing the Fauré Requiem in St Leonard's Church, Wollaton, and taking part in a mean Trial by Jury at the school. For a while I went along on Geography field trips at Easter. These were led by David Singleton (who, unhappily, died soon after leaving the school) and Bill Sharrod, very different people but both great enthusiasts and able to inspire. These trips started me off on a life long interest in Geology and Physical Geography and introduced me to some wonderful country. In North Yorkshire I was nearly annihilated by the trek up Ingleborough, but saw a red squirrel on the way and the Ribble Head viaduct from the top. In Dorset, in glorious weather, we were introduced to the wonderful and seemingly endless cliff scenery; Chantal Mabit (now Corvoisier), the French assistante came too and was entranced.


Then, of course, there was Chemistry. Fortunately there have always been students who could understand how exciting and relevant it is to much of our lives though the new syllabuses give modern students a much greater chance of success. The Robinson - Brailsford combination lasted for over twenty years and as head of department Mike was always absolutely fair in all his dealings, methodical to the last and with a passion for puzzle solving which delighted and bemused generations of his students. We've taken groups all over; to refineries and breweries, to soap works and endless laboratories. Nothing could beat the sight of the Blast Furnace being tapped a few feet away from us at Stanton Ironworks. Terrifying - definitely not to be repeated - but unforgettable! We've coaxed and encouraged people to pass A-levels, get the grades they need and go on well beyond that to great academic achievements and successful careers at the highest level. To set someone on the right path for a career that suits them has been the purpose of my working life and an immensely rewarding one.

Finally, the young. We only know people for two years, mostly, but they are very significant years. It's good when we can keep in touch. Some large families 'lasted' for years, which helps; others write when they have taken up Science teaching themselves. Recently there have been delightful encounters with ex-students whose children are entering Bilborough and from time to time proud parents or younger siblings give us news of weddings or babies or job changes. There are lots of people I'd love to hear from; in a way my job is like reading a novel with half the pages missing - I like hearing about the next few chapters! It's truly fascinating to work with the young; they make my life more enjoyable every day, even now.

And I bet most of my colleagues would say the same.


Drama & Theatre At Bilborough

Gilly Archer (Theatre Studies, 1971 - present)

When I arrived at Bilborough Grammar School in September, 1971, I encountered a strong tradition of drama, in which it has been my pleasure to be involved to this day.

There was a senior school production in November, a middle school production in the spring and a lower school 'drama festival' in the summer. In 1971 the November production was Miller's The Crucible, directed by Mick Saunders. This was an amazingly authentic production, involving, as was always the case then, a large number of pupils and staff. Team effort is one of the best things I remember about Bilborough productions.

Charles Stone (Head of Art) created the set using reclaimed church beams hung above the stage. The lighting was operated from the side of the stage using six wall-length dimmer bars, which took two hands and all one's body strength to slide up and down, emitting sparks as they went. (How quickly technology has moved in this field!)

I trawled the antique shops on the Mansfield Road for authentic props. A writing desk I borrowed and which the shop kindly declined to take back, is still in our props cupboard. Somewhere in there, too, is the little puritan 'poppet' I made for the scene where Goody Proctor is arrested.


In 1972, Brian Binding (Head of English) staged Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle with specially commissioned percussion. I remember putting fresh cheese inside the papier mache one used for the first scene, so that the actors could eat some, and warming jugs of water to pour over Grusha's husband in his tin bath.

My directing debut was Noel Coward's Hay Fever with set designed in art nouveau style by Toby Jackson (Head of Art). We did this production on a shoe-string and the best bit about it was that students created costumes, stage managed and helped direct.

While Bilborough was developing as a sixth-form college, I directed The Mikado. This production boasted meticulously researched kimonos by our librarian, Jean Gregory. (Some are still extant in our Wardrobe.) The unruly chorus included many of the male staff. Bill Bristow, a staunch fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, saw the show and was horrified that I had not wanted to follow the D'Oyly Carte moves that he knew off by heart.

In 1975, Drama & Theatre Arts AO-level was introduced into the Bilborough syllabus - I had 2 candidates. This course gained in popularity during the next 5 years, but we kept the productions open to everyone - still a real strength in my opinion.


Despite the changing nature of the institution, our theatrical work continued to develop. An experimentation with street theatre (outside the relatively new Broadmarsh Centre) became an annual event in the form of children's theatre, devised and performed by students at local primary schools. We have presented magic puddings, talking horses and rumbling volcanoes to thousands of excited (sometimes terrified) 5-7 year olds.

Innovation and variety have always been hallmarks of Bilborough's theatrical activity. Dave Littlewood's brilliant production of The Pirates of Penzance, complete with chicken wire and papier mache 'rocks', experimented with back projection. Martin Ford's production of Beckett's Play in 1976 was our first venture into the absurd. The Tempest followed - in-the-round with student rock band. (This was the year the rostra and the new fingertip control lighting system arrived.)

Bolt's A Man For All Seasons boasted probably our last solid 3D set with costumes based on contemporary paintings. (Our Sir Thomas More is now an Architect.) In Salad Days, the highlight was a fashion house scene, with incredible flower frock creations by Jean Gregory (whose sister, actress Pat Heywood, had appeared in the original production). The star of this production is now head of infants at Bramcote Hills Primary School and has commissioned several of our Children's Theatre pieces.

In 1979, AEB A-level Theatre Studies began - I used to teach it in one year. Some of the 9 students appeared in our second Noel Coward production of Blithe Spirit, memorable for its leading man not learning his words. Martyn Offord vowed never to do another production. Our largest venture was a Radio Nottingham schools' challenge to mount a production at Nottingham's Theatre Royal. For our theme, The Edwardians, we created a collage of contrasting scenes featuring cameos such as George Coombs as Edward VII. I remember vividly the rehearsals taking up the entire hall, stage and catwalk, which roughly equalled the size of the Theatre Royal stage.


In 1982, West Side Story hit the stage with very contemporary setting designed by art students and Tony Goodchild's huge orchestra (sited behind the audience because it was so loud!) We have a video tape copy, somewhat ghostly since technology was primitive. Lloyd Notice, who played Riff, is now a professional actor, currently working in TV.

It wasn't just stage productions during this time. For two years running my tutor group created a Christmas nativity experience for primary school children at Shipley Park farm. Imagine the bussed-in children's surprise to see 'real' shepherds encamped upon the Derbyshire hills as they arrived, and to meet a harassed innkeeper barring a young couple from her inn, only to have a baby born amid the goats and sheep in the barn. At lunch-times the contemporary productions workshop Instant Lunch proved very popular - workshop productions such as Synge's Riders to the Sea were a regular feature in the Drama Studio (now reverted to its original use as student common room). Now the Acting Workshop fills the Arts Centre on Friday lunch-times.

Especially for 1984 I adapted Dickens' Bleak House for performance. This took up the whole hall with the audience seated along one side facing the catwalk. The court scenes were on the stage, scenes in different houses in the catwalk alcoves, and scenes in Hertfordshire at the opposite end of the hall, near the organ (which was then housed there). There was a constantly present chorus of the writhing poor on the floor below the catwalk and much use was made of dry ice smoke to recreate the fog which permeates the story. A shortened version was staged at Nottingham Playhouse - another brilliant experience for our students.


During the 1980s Martyn Offord staged The Playboy of the Western World (brilliantly evocative scenery and music) and The Rape of the Lock (ambitious choral and mime piece based on the poem). We co-directed Lysistrata (scripted by Martyn), and Dorothy Mountford and I staged a traverse stage production of Bond's The Sea, which gained a special mention in the Times Ed., and Hilary Jones and the CPVE team staged Grease and Hair to much acclaim. Chris Brierley wrote and staged two innovative dance-music pieces with Hilary Jones, Northern Passage and Voices from the Labyrinth, and A-level Theatre Studies students performed Berkoff's Metamorphosis at the newly opened College Street centre for the performing arts.

The 90s saw us move into our Shakespeare phase - to coincide with the new National Curriculum requirements for pupils to study Shakespeare. We started with a black and white production of Measure for Measure - our last production before the advent of second-hand raked seating. Then came Romeo & Juliet (famous for its dreadlocked Romeo) and Macbeth (the latter with a grant of £2000 from TVEI, fondly remembered for its striking chorus scenes and using two actors and two actresses for the Macbeth couple) for which we shipped in local comprehensive school pupils.


As the staff has become smaller and time more pressing and as more and more students are bussed in from further and further away, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain large stage productions. We have mounted summer term activity week offerings: a five-day Comedy of Errors, a four-day The Tempest and a three-day Images of King Lear. Rob Colley (Head of Music) and Martyn Offord co-wrote a rock version of Oedipus Rex (retitled Oedipus Rox) with catchy tunes, masks and chorus - strains of 'Oh Sphinxy, you're such a minxy' drifted through the college for months. Students (hooray) directed and staged Gogol's The Nose in 1997.

The advent of Performing Arts AS in 1996 met the growing demand for more dance-based work. There have been Christmas specials - an original dance piece Where is the Child? alongside a dramatisation of Keat's The Eve of St Agnes in 1997 - and last year a Theatre Studies student-devised production of The Bacchae

This year - 1999 - the students are putting on West Side Story again. They obtained the rights, held auditions and have begun work for a July performance. When they came to ask me if they could go ahead, my first reaction was 'Oh, we've done that.' But of course, these students were only just born in 1982 - so why not run it again!

[A 'nearly complete' list of productions from 1957-1999 appears in Appendix W. Ed]


The trick is not to stop the sliding but to find a graceful way of staying slid

Jim Harmes (Geography ... , 1987 - present )

I was asked to express a few thoughts on how the job has changed over the past twenty years. Whilst the following article is not, perhaps, totally balanced, it certainly identifies some personal frustrations.

Houghton seemed to be the only body which really valued teachers. Part of the trouble is that the profession tends to be regarded as a homogeneous entity when the characteristics of the job - from nursery to FE - can be very different. I feel that my present job is as rewarding as any I am likely to get and I look back in horror at the stresses of 17 years in Inner London schools. But Inner London was an authority which cared and put its money where its mouth was. It also introduced a system of inspection and support which hasn't been bettered. So it had to go. Frequently teachers in more stressful institutions are regarded as less competent and less effective simply because they are unable to compensate for inadequacies of parenthood, peer pressures, media and society demands, etc. And that is without the progressive withdrawal of funding and support for the social services so that, increasingly, schools are expected to compensate.


Degradation of teachers began long ago. Kenneth Baker didn't exactly help when he imagined he would make the system more effective by measuring it. From then on, teachers were not to be trusted to organise their own time; 1265 hours were to be demanded and five days were taken off holidays for training. There were doubtless fruitful spin-offs from this but for many staff that was the end of Saturday morning supervision of sports and other voluntary activities; they thought, 'stuff it, if we're not going to be valued'. I think that marked a sea change in attitudes and levels of commitment. Neither do I believe that it is coincidental that many complain of deterioration in the quality of state school sports.

About this time, the other thing to knock was the quality of teachers. But the Government was going to do something about this. Yes, sirree, they were going to make sure that the profession would in the near future become all-graduate. That, of course, was where there was a bit of money in the coffers. Then it changed. Now the main qualifications are that you need a bit of interest, can speak a modicum of English and don't mind learning on the job. Talk about being dictated by economic necessity ...


Then the National Curriculum. Not because it is of intrinsic value to pupils but because politicians will be able to keep a closer eye on teachers and pretend that they, the politicians, are doing something useful and measurable. And they can construct neat and tidy league tables which put nice, middle class schools at the top and demonstrate that inner city schools - mostly in Labour-controlled boroughs - are hopelessly inadequate. Concepts of value added were trendy and, of course, to be ignored. Fortunately they were unable to stifle all of the outcry and modifications and a few changes of policy have taken place.

CPVE came and went and then we moved into acronymical megadrive. NCVQ, NVQ, GNVQ, etc, etc - all designed for post-16 but filtering downwards because in the certificate quagmire there was precious little to inspire low achievers. D34 and D35 have entered the teaching vocabulary as verbs. What sort of communicators have we become? Then, just as we are beginning to work out what the letters mean they change. One minute A-levels are the gold standard, then there is to be a parallel and more practical route - which could have been quite sensible. Then A/S entered and is now clearly on the way out. Then we hear that GNVQ standards are so low that the scheme may change. Then the whole of the A-level route may change, and the merry-go-round continues.


The system wasn't satisfactory. So let's try another change. Persuade industry to cough up for specialist City Technology Colleges, outside the state system, to provide examples of good practice. But industry wasn't that gullible and the government ended up pouring millions of desperately-needed pounds into a crackpot scheme which was bound to fail, short-changing local authority schools in the process. Now all government talk of CTCs has gone terribly muted. Meanwhile other schools crumble, so how about off-loading them? Bribe them to opt out. Few were that daft; logic dictated that a short-term windfall was not likely to last. So instead we get local management of schools and colleges, an idea which in some ways has its merits. But the price we pay is that the idea of a regional policy for education goes out of the window. Support centres have disappeared and the prevailing ethos is now competition, not co-operation. The prevailing language is management-speak, with marketing challenges (oh how I hate that word), franchise opportunities (and that one), curricular niches ...

... and Quality Control. Yes, that matters. So we'll inspect. Every four years. According to Our Criteria. And cheaply. So we advertise for bids. And so it came to pass. If it is not cheap it shall be efficient. And if it is not efficient it shall be cheap. A bit more to fret over. The result? Not the improvement of teacher skills or educational planning by making recommendations and sending in teams of advisers. That would cost money. No; the outcome shall be a Grade, and that Grade shall be incorporated into League Tables. Or perhaps not. The market will do the rest. The trouble is, inspectors don't seem to want the job and the shortfall is such that ideas of four-yearly cycles seem to be fading fast.


Meanwhile, in Scotland, where more than 95 % of the student population has gone to comprehensive schools since the early 1960s, there has been significantly less tinkering. Exam results are higher than in England, as are the perceptions of the quality of education being received. It's not the system as much as the stability which matters. And that is something which we certainly don't have. It's driving many out of the profession and others into an early grave. And that isn't exaggerating the problem. As for money ...

So what has happened since then? Well, a new government has arrived, chanting the mantra of education, confirming and building on most of the initiatives of its predecessor. For all education post-16 the pressure is on. The sector is now driven by market forces; the more 'activity units' we generate the more money we gain. A necessary evil, I suppose. Evil inasmuch as earning cash can detract from the prime activity of education, necessary because resources are limited and we need to be accountable.


So what would I like to see happen in the coming few years?

A Chief Inspector appointed who valued people. Inspectors who are given the resources to do their job properly rather than, as is presently instituted, taking valuable time off teachers to collect information for them.

A way of removing the ethos of fear. The current inspection system seems to engender an urge to cover your back at all costs. Something is only done if it is recorded. Communication thus only really takes place if a memo is involved. It would be nice if talking came back into fashion.

A week in every year when no paper shall be generated.

A system which supports strugglers and sifts out the idle whilst at the same time encouraging the bright and quirky. Staff and students alike.

Free and regularised publication of statistics and information but the dumping of published league tables. A way to be found once more of encouraging co-operation rather than competition between institutions.

A chance once more for me to retire at 55.


If it is true that the amount of work expands to fill the time available - and it certainly seems to be - then two essential questions follow. How much time should we reasonably make available? Which is the important work which must be done? However we resolve those questions in our own minds we are bound to make somebody unhappy. We can't win and it was ever thus. We can only strive to stay gracefully slid.

Despite all this, how come I still enjoy teaching? So many lovely people.


Reflections on Bilborough College

Peter Jones (Director, 1981 - present)

I woke to discover my colleague's tongue in such proximity to my ear that, had he been conscious, the incident might have caused some embarrassment. I had made two fundamental errors the previous evening: pitching our tent on a slight incline, and choosing to lay out my sleeping bag on the lower side. Pinned against the wall of the tent by a heaving mound of flesh and with little chance of immediate escape I pondered on the amazing set of events of which this could be seen to be the bizarre culmination. I thought back to the first evening. The sun dipped low over the Irish Sea bathing the field in a warm glow as I looked out over all the tents with a strange sense of disbelief. For some reason we thought we could take 30 young people, unfamiliar with the rigours of long-distance walking before this year, and cover 193 miles in 9 days over mountain and moor land, pitching camp at a fresh spot each evening and moving on next day. I could not understand then how we were going to do it and now that the journey was almost complete I did not know how it had been done. Anyway, it did not seem important any more. What mattered was that we had experienced some astoundingly beautiful countryside, overcome individual physical and psychological barriers we had not even approached previously, and in doing so we had each shared something of ourselves with others. We had talked together, laughed together, cried together. For all those privileged to be part of it, it had been a precious time and it would not be an exaggeration to say that for some it had changed the whole direction of their life. I turned my head towards the gaping mouth, rhythmically spluttering like a coastal blow hole ... . yes, altogether a unique experience.


The Coast to Coast Walk was the first of the big summer walks raising money for charity which now seem to have become an accepted part of the College Calendar. Although completing a recognised long distance walk brought the students a sense of personal achievement and gave the event some structure, it was the relationships that were forged and the intense appreciation of the natural world around us which made it memorable. In creating this balance it seems to me it epitomised all that is best about Bilborough College, an institution which has managed to work within a framework without becoming bound by it. In doing so it has enabled staff to maintain the enthusiasm for learning and for engaging positively with other individuals which makes them not just first class teachers but good people to be around. It is this homely but invigorating atmosphere which has meant so much to me and undoubtedly influenced my own approach to teaching over the years.

Back in the classroom I follow the syllabus and encourage students to jump through the hoops which will earn them their certificates and enable them to progress to the next stage of their career. But at the same time there is space to get to know and work alongside young people, bright enough to appreciate some of the fascination of the subject and polite enough to laugh at the wearisome jokes. Together we explore a store of knowledge which never fails to conjure up fresh surprises as another set of students brings its own understandings, and indeed misunderstandings, to familiar topics. Entering a classroom to teach Mathematics has always been a bit of an adventure for me, a foray into the unknown, and not always because I can't remember what it was we were doing last time. The precision and power of this language of logic and the fascinating visual imagery associated with it are an endless source of wonder. One has to be grateful to work in a place where an affective response is neither mocked on the one hand nor set on a scale of wondrousness on the other.


At Bilborough the recognition that not everything of value is easily categorised and measured is mirrored in the richness and diversity of College life beyond the classroom. Apart from the walks, there have been so many special activities which have served to bring people together and help them identify with the College as a community. One thinks back to the bus loads of local youngsters escorted around the American Adventure, the 'Stars in Their Eyes' Concerts, the Fun Sports, and the annual Christmas Ball. At the same time activities such as the evergreen Children's Theatre taking its home-grown production around the local junior schools, or the painting of murals for the QMC Christmas Pantomime, have brought smaller groups of students together in a very special way.

There is a large and increasing pool of sporting and artistic talent amongst the students, and their performances, whether on the sports field or the stage, are for me not only a joy to watch but often a strangely moving experience. These are people I know, students I see regularly around the college doing normal student things like dropping litter or reviving each other with a spot of mouth-to-mouth. They may not even be studying a related subject, yet suddenly here they are transformed, displaying almost unbelievable skills and creativity. The Family Care Concert given in the Great Hall at Southwell Minster was one such event which sticks in the memory. It is this extra dimension which makes for a more rounded community and provides a more complete experience for each of its members.


Yet we have never been allowed to take ourselves too seriously. Despite the increasing pressures, which threaten to turn us all into memo maniacs, that sense of fun always seems to bounce back. The ability to laugh at ourselves and take an irreverent view of the more ridiculous situations we face, sometimes helps us through another day. It is even a way of celebrating very different personalities in a positive way. Perhaps this has been seen best at some of the retirement events which have been organised over the years which have given the opportunity to show our affection for colleagues and affirm them without seeking to canonise them. Does anyone remember these snippets?

Oh Roy Downing, Oh Roy Downing
We'll miss the dulcet echoes of
Your voice across the exam room,
Announcement of impending doom,
So ditty sing, so ditty sing,
So dit, sodit, so ditty sing,
So dit, sodit, so ditty sing,
So ditty sing to Roy Downing
(sung to the tune of 'The Red Flag' by Martyn Offord)


They were talking about a security grill
To go in the outer reception.
It wasn't so Brenda would come to no ill,
But the visitors needing protection.

Brenda's heart is so big and so full of fun,
It eclipses her mouth to be fair,
Though to make sure you find your way to the one
Fill the other with chocolate eclair.


All of these aspects of life at Bilborough form part of what has made it such a good place to be for so long. In a world of factory farming there is still a bit of the free-range farm about us. From the outside, knowing the names of all your chickens and allowing them space to flap their wings might appear a little quaint, almost romantic, but the reality is that it can be messy and it's hard work keeping it going.

In fact it is interesting to consider just how it has kept going in quite the way it has. Personal conviction drawn from professional, humanitarian and religious values has undoubtedly provided a strong sense of purpose over the years. Of late this has perhaps been strengthened by survival instincts directing us into our little niche in the market. Or maybe we just have to admit that it is more fun plodding around in your wellies, as it were, talking to chickens, than monitoring the inputs and outputs of battery pullets on a computer screen.



Sue Phillips (Director, Marketing & Curriculum Development, 1978 - present)

As a small Sixth Form College we have 'liaised' with a number of people including schools, businesses and other educational institutions. Over the years our reputation has fluctuated from being 'free and easy', 'liberal and lacking in discipline' to being an 'institution of academic excellence'.

During this time our liaisons have changed educationally from working with 'feeder' schools in a 'catchment' area to 'partner' schools in a rather more diverse area creeping over county boundaries, and some have even been so bold as to say we have 'poached' from neighbouring Colleges. We have been a member of any county or city plan to link schools together educationally. Many of us remember the TVEI days with affection but often we found ourselves outsiders in these partnerships as we were not a school and not an FE College. This lack of identification was often a blessing as we could choose which groupings were favourable to us. We also remember other links through CPVE, especially Peter Stay's valiant attempts to transport students from Bilborough to Basford Hall and back again! Now we have moved into 'Compacts' with local universities and with local schools and key words like 'Widening Participation' have entered our vocabulary.


We also liaise in a European fashion now and are part of a European consortium of Colleges with France, Germany and Sweden. To mark the Millennium and the partnership between the countries a number of students from the partnership will be attending a camp in Frankfurt-Oder, Germany, in September 2000.

Working with businesses has seen us a part of the TEC's initiative of Teacher placements. Many staff had enjoyable experiences of working in industry for a week or more and students benefited from the occasional class visit, perhaps a visiting speaker or free films from Boots!

After Incorporation another word took over from liaison and that was marketing! We could no longer have these frivolous liaisons, we had to market ourselves in a competitive market place. Our unique selling point was the fact that we were small and friendly, we cared for the individual and we were concerned with academic excellence. Therefore while everyone else became GNVQ crazy we stayed with our traditional roots and continued to deliver A levels. Our Newsletters and Prospectuses grew from photocopied in-house printed sheets of paper to glossy, colourful editions each reinforcing our achievements. With these came the presentations and career fairs and again bigger and more professional presentation stands. Although Roger Stevens resented the spending of money on such extravagances even he submitted to the marketing phenomenon!


Our numbers keep growing and our reputation of 'academic excellence and care for the individual' remains established at the moment and it appears a number of people would like to 'liaise' with us!

Where do we go from here? As luck would have it, we seem to have always marketed ourselves best by the good old Bilborough phrase 'word of mouth', be that the mouth of the student, member of staff, parent or governor. Our annual Reunions of staff and students echo the sense that having experienced Bilborough the memory fondly lingers on. When asked what it is that makes Bilborough the place it is, the sense of belonging unfolds but rather like a good mystery no one can fully sum up the experience but the words they use are always positive. Long may that continue!


Pastoral Care

Dorothy Mountford (Vice-Principal, 1979 - present)

When the Editor began this compilation last autumn he wrote to me asking for a piece on 'Pastoral Care'. Nearly a year later I was still suffering writer's block; even proof reading colleagues' draft contributions failed to inspire me to put on to paper the 'good ideas' that visited me in the small hours. It was time to analyse my subconscious and to confront the reason for my reluctance to contribute to this history of the college!

It wasn't long before I came clean and discovered the stopper to be the terminology of the topic! 'Pastoral Care' like all labels is a useful shorthand but a dangerous stereotype. Redolent of Bo-Peep the suggestion that students are sheep and teachers are herders is uncomfortable and unfortunate. In the past in many educational institutions the role of the pastoral carers has been marginalised to the non-specialist and to the women. It was the mumsie, tears, tissues and tampax image that grated. Bilborough as a sixth form college has always done better than that both by its students and its staff.

Times have changed and support for students is now a clearly identified part of the college's quality system which is inspected by the FEFC. Student Services in FE in general is no longer the poor relation, and even if it is the customer care aspect of the client centred ethic of the new world of incorporation which has generated this, it should be celebrated as giving dignity to an aspect of education that in the past has been denigrated and seen as second class by those who valued only the able or like-minded students in their 'care'.


Not infrequently first-time visitors offer gratuitously their perception of us as a warm and welcoming place. Call it ethos, atmosphere, what you will, bottle it and we could create an 'alternative income stream' (ie not rely solely on the FEFC for cash!) The link with care is not insignificant ... Students are our business and have been since pre-incorporation times. Staff are educators by profession, they are concerned with the growth of the whole person. The concept of pastoral care as something separate, a splinter activity tagged on to the 'proper business' of academic teaching, has never been on the agenda of any of the principals of the sixth form college.

Charles Martin set the tone. Young people deserved the best in terms of role models in the shape of their teachers and if investment in staffing was at the expense of the fabric of the place those of us who have gnashed our teeth at leaking roofs and bare boards more than reap the benefit of the firm foundations he laid in 'people' terms.

Four of those people were the first division leaders, a management role that was to be a key if changing function within the college. George Coombs, Bob Dossetter, Bill McNaughton and Margaret Watkinson, from 1979, made a reality of that early vision of a caring and supportive environment. They had the oversight of a group of tutors and students - a liquorice allsorts tutor group system where foundation students doing basic skills courses met twice daily with their Oxbridge-entrance peers. Thus began, from very early in the life of the sixth form college, that sense of valuing the individual which is still a feature as the institution faces the millennium. The student was important. Charles Martin was the principal who knew the names of the students by the end of the first week. Though he does pretty well even Peter Jones cannot beat that - he gets there by the end of the first term!!


Gordon Brown took up the baton. He introduced the 'tick-plus-minus system', a termly snapshot of how students were performing in their studies, identifying those deserving commendation and using the minus (later changed to a less judgemental query) to help students who were under-performing by investigating why there was a 'cause for concern'. Gordon's view was that whatever was standing in the way of learning needed to be addressed. Peter Stay was the VP pastoral care never resorting to sheep dog tactics, but together with Roger Stevens who, despite his remit as finance VP (one he kept to very tightly) provided a professional support to students par excellence. This period of the college's history saw an expansion of divisions to eight, then a reduction to six. Many staff gained valuable experience from the opportunity to manage a division. The role demanded a multiplicity of skills: interpersonal, diplomatic, administrative and survival!

What Charles Martin and Gordon Brown, Peter Stay and Roger Stevens share with the 'new' principal, Martin Slattery, is that quality of care which has informed their vision for Bilborough. Their commitment to young people extended and extends beyond league tables and performance indicators. The deep vein of committed concern for students by so many staff has been sustained by these men leading by example - not something found in every school and college, not something with which every principal is comfortable nor of which they are necessarily capable. With the fresh eye of an objective newcomer Martin quickly noted the concept of Bilborough as a family. One may presume that as a sociologist he has no cosy nostalgic notion of that term. There has been a sense of tough love about two phases of reorganisation - a painful reality for those undergoing it and equally so for those having to make difficult but necessary changes.


Although the old order changed giving place to new, the division remained. Although the new style division leader managed budgets, staff and timetables, the ancien régime lived on. Gilly Archer and Jeff Lowe, incumbents of reorganised curriculum divisions have both been old style division leaders, as have Karen Lowe, Di Sulley and Julia Brailsford senior tutors in the restructured plan whose role closely resembles the old division leader! Together with the senior curriculum leader, a brand new role and title, they support students as learners, and so the song goes on ... !

Martin Slattery has taken the elements of Bilborough, recreating a robust and rigorous structure to support that ethos which has come down strongly through the years and which as its latest principal he seeks to cherish and retain.

During the introductory session of the newly established academic board, staff representatives and governors put themselves in context with comments such as "my children came here . . " or "come here . . " or "will come here ..." In his turn Martin expressed the wish that his children had come here! A moving affirmation of his staff and their approach to students.

So, pastoral care or guidance and support or support for students, whatever, remains an integral part of Bilborough. Some students may fall through the net, but few fail to respond to the time and support staff give to them. Some staff may feel uncomfortable with the learner culture, but the college is about the whole person, about both teaching and learning. Socrates sums up, albeit in archaic and uninclusive language, the philosophy Bilborough seems to practise instinctively: 'I shall only ask him, and not teach him, and he shall share the enquiry with me ...'


The journey we are privileged to share with our students encourages the development of the whole person, ensures that the individual is never allowed to be overshadowed by a sense of failure. Staff show as much delight in the achievement of a border line student as in that of someone gaining the grades for Oxbridge.

Bilborough has been fortunate in its governors who have appointed principals with principle, who in turn have supported the staff who fought the constraints of the academic straight jacket, without compromising academic excellence, resisting both the pitfalls of sentimentality and the strictures of superiority, who saw care for the individual as an integral part of the learning process and nurtured that rare plant which today still flourishes as the quality of professional relationships and rapport which is part of the 'family values' of Bilborough College.

In conclusion: after careful reflection on the above, a last word on pastoral care, like the term or loath it, care of and for the individual is not a part of the college ethos - it IS the college ethos!


From the Chair

Alan Hawksworth

The following article is based on jottings made during an informal and relaxed conversation with the current Chairman of Bilborough College Corporation.

Ed: Do you remember your first contact with Bilborough?
AH: Yes, that would be when my elder son, Paul, started at the college in September, 1983. Barbara and I have two sons, Paul and Richard, both of whom attended Fernwood Comprehensive School and Bilborough College. I remember, in particular, Paul's interview with the then Headmaster, Charles Martin, who explained how the College worked and the standards expected. I'm strongly in favour of letting students know what is expected of them, as well as telling them what they should expect of the College. Barbara and I regularly attended Parents' Evenings and it was during the course of one of these that I came to hear of the Bilborough College Society.


Ed: And one thing led to another ...
AH: That's right. I joined the Society and was in due course elected Treasurer in succession to Mike Chamberlain. I quickly came to admire the enthusiasm and dedication of this group of people and I felt that by supporting the Society I was making a worthwhile contribution to the college and to the welfare of its students. Charles Martin retired in 1987 and because the County Authority was considering restructuring its 16-19 education provision, no immediate successor was appointed. I well remember a stormy meeting of Governors and Parents at which an attempt was made to bring pressure to bear on the Authority, but to no avail. Then the Local Management of Schools (LMS) system was introduced and soon afterwards I was co-opted onto the Governing Body. I attended my first Governors' meeting in March, 1989. The financial statement prepared in June that year showed that the college income was made up of a basic sum, £2,800, plus an allowance of £68-19 for each of the 589 students, giving the princely total of £42,963-91, excluding odds and ends for telephone, postage and travel expenses. Today the budget is of the order of £2.25 million. We soon recognised that under LMS three Governors' meetings per year would never suffice to deal with the huge increase in business delegated to the college. We therefore formed sub-committees to deal with Curriculum, Finance and General Purposes, Personnel and Students, and Sponsorship. At that time, I served on the latter two, hoping to use for the benefit of the college my experience as Personnel Director of The Boots Company.


Ed: What was your reaction to Kenneth Clarke's proposal in March, 1991, to create a new post-16 education sector?
AH: I can honestly say that it was not one of shock-horror. On the contrary, I welcomed the prospect of greater freedom of action for Governors and perhaps benefits for the local community.

Ed: And then Incorporation itself, 1st April, 1993.
AH: Those two years between Kenneth Clarke's announcement and Incorporation seemed to fly by. We prepared industriously, having the new Governing Body with four sub-committees (Employment Policy and Finance, Remuneration, Audit and Strategic Planning) in place by October, 1992. I was elected Chairman (the first of my four two-year stints) and I think it fair to say that, as a body, we were optimistic, particularly as excellent working relationships had been established with Gordon Brown, who, with his hardworking Senior Management Team, had borne the brunt of the introduction of LMS following his appointment as Principal in 1988. We felt we had the right blend of skills and expertise available to meet the anticipated challenges and generally speaking, this has been the case. However, some of those challenges have perhaps been greater than expected, in particular securing our financial position. The Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) is responsible for providing Government funds, which have been progressively reduced, putting us under increasing pressure to raise funding from other sources.


Ed: Would you like to comment on the FEFC Inspection Report presented in February, 1996?
AH: I don't wish to sound complacent, but I think, on the whole, we were reasonably satisfied by the outcome. That said, it is extremely disheartening, for example, to be held responsible for the poor state of repair of the building, a building which was erected in 1957 and which was for 36 of the next 39 years the responsibility of the local education authority. Martin Slattery, Principal Designate, was also present when the Report was tabled, and I would like to pay tribute to him for the dedication he has shown over the last three-and-a-half years in responding to the issues raised.

Ed: I gather you are the Governor representative for the Midlands and Wales on the Sixth Form College Employers' Forum (SFCEF) Council. What does this entail?
AH: There are eight regions, each with a Governor and a Principal representative, with a permanent Secretariat which is based in London. I'm not sure that 'representative' is the right word, as it really is not possible for me to maintain contact with all the Colleges in an area as big as the Midlands and Wales. We meet about once each month on an agenda which deals with employment matters, including conditions of service. In particular, we conduct the annual pay negotiations for both teachers and support staff. I find it very useful to be able to discuss matters of mutual interest at national level and in particular to take part in meetings with Government and FEFC representatives. As we speak I think we are making some progress in convincing them of the special value and needs of sixth-form colleges within the FE sector.


Ed: Are you optimistic about the future?
AH: Yes. There are areas of concern, of course, such as where the responsibility lies for planning FE provision in any area, in our case the East Midlands. Then there is the ever-increasing burden placed on governors and staff by Government policies which demand more but provide reduced resources. However, I spent a day in College recently, meeting staff and students and taking part in the day's programme. I was very impressed and I cannot believe that any government would jeopardise such a high quality contribution to our education system. We are top of the East Midlands league and I feel we can match the best in the country. We have reviewed all the options to guarantee our future financially and I am sure that the one we have adopted, strategic partnership with Broxtowe College, will allow us to maintain the Bilborough character and will prove successful for both parties.

Ed: Finally, I noticed in the minutes that you will not be standing for re-election as Chairman in Autumn, 2000.
AH: That's right. I have decided to retire from the Corporation then. After 11 years as a Governor, 7 of them as Chairman, I feel that the time has come for a change, the election of a new person with fresh ideas. I shall look back fondly on my "Bilborough years" and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Staff and Governors with whom I have worked over those years and to wish the College every success in the future.


The following two paragraphs originally appeared as a postscript to the concluding article of this history. On the occasion that the Principal addressed the staff, soon after his appointment and before taking up office, I asked the question - 'Why did you apply for this post?' I was curious. The new incumbent had come from Basildon College which, according to the 1996 FEFC Inspection Report, had 5570 enrolments (55 % aged 25+ years, 18 % 19-24, 26 % 16-18, 1 % under 16), 202 fte staff and an income of £5.590m (and expenditure of £6.006m). It seemed that the only feature in common to the two colleges was the initials.

Postscript: Finally - and in response to the Editor's persistent question - why did I take on the position of Principal of Bilborough College 3½ years ago? The answer is very simple. Beneath all the concerns raised by the FEFC Inspectorate and by various financial and strategic analyses of the institution, lay a College with a clear commitment to teaching, learning and most especially students. Its curriculum was sound and its academic achievements were solid, some of the best in the East Midlands. However it clearly had the potential to do better - in fact it had to do better if it was to survive as an independent institution. Change was needed - in some areas quite radical change - but not to change Bilborough as such, but to strengthen it and to enable it to fulfil its Mission within post-16 education in Nottingham. The College had - and has - enormous potential and considerable inner strengths. If I have contributed anything over the past three years it is to recognise that potential and work on it; to build on the standards and traditions set by previous Principals and to encourage and enable Bilborough to be its true self - an attractive, confident, well respected College offering 16-19 year-olds high academic standards and the full range of Sixth Form opportunities. That is what Nottingham clearly needs; that is what Bilborough is capable of offering.

Nothing I have done, however, could have been done without support. Whatever people's initial reservations about the changes proposed, once the need for change was recognised, support has been extensive and heartfelt. The staff have responded magnificently, and the Corporation, and in particular the Chairman, Alan Hawksworth, the Vice-Chair, Ros Clark, and the Clerk to the Corporation, Martin Edwards, have been wonderfully supportive and extremely encouraging. Special mention must however go to the Senior Management Team (SMT) of Peter Jones, Bob Dossetter and Sue Phillips; Gilly Archer, Peter Ford, Jeff Lowe and Martyn Offord - staff who have given a lifetime of service to the College and to its development. Particular thanks must equally go to Dorothy Mountford. Dorothy more than most has carried the burden of change, supporting both myself and the staff through the anguish and, on occasions agonies, that change inevitably brings to both individuals and to the institution. The support and commitment of SMT has been unswerving and without it little could have been achieved. Together with the staff - the teaching and the support staff - they have and are preparing the College for that very "bright" future David Gore once predicted. The question isn't really why did I take up the challenge, but how could I turn it down! How could I turn down the opportunity to make a contribution to a College that had so much to contribute both to its students and to the community of Nottingham.


The Spirit Lives On

Martin Slattery (Principal, 5/1996 - present)

First impressions are all important. As the new Principal appointed to Bilborough College in May 1996, I had three first impressions, all very different, all very varied, all very Bilborough.

My first impression was of the building: The bins and bikesheds as you enter the front of the College, which is ironically at the side; The welcoming wave from a portly caretaker;
The peace and quiet of the Principal's office and the scenic view beyond.

My second impression was one of immense and intense warmth and welcome, of purposeful hustle and bustle, a vibrant and lively atmosphere that pervaded the whole environment: reception, the staffroom, the canteen and the library. The corridors were "alive with the sound of students" and the Grand Tour by Roger Stevens and Dorothy Mountford only reinforced the sense of history, tradition and achievement that pervaded the atmosphere and every nook and cranny that we were allowed into. The sense of care and concern that underpinned all conversations and even the interviews were equally on display. The Governors clearly had a special feel for the College and the sort of personal commitment that can only come through the experiences of your own children. The sense of community, of care and of family was obvious to all.


My third and final impression was that provided by the 1996 FEFC Inspection Report. The FEFC Inspectors clearly spelt out the strengths and weaknesses of the College and provided an agenda for action - in some cases quite urgent action - over the next four years. The quality of the teaching and learning, pastoral support and the enrichment programme was clearly described in their commentary and in the grades awarded. The concerns the inspectors raised about the need for the College to fundamentally review its organisational structure, its decision making and its lines of accountability if it was to survive, let alone thrive, in the highly competitive world of FE matched my own initial analysis.

Here was a small Sixth Form College on the outskirts of Nottingham with a clear and almost Christian commitment to students and to the uniqueness of the College, satisfied with and rightly proud of its results and achievements but in danger of being complacent, of being sidelined and even taken over. The shadow of the Local Education Authority still hung over the organisation. There was a strong distrust, an almost self-righteous attitude towards the FEFC, the inspectors and any outsiders who claimed to know better than the staff. If change was to come to Bilborough then it had to come swiftly and cleanly. Hence my first staff meeting, a week before I took up post. Hence the first major restructuring; hence the changes that have taken place since. They have all been designed to show the need for change, not for the sake of change, but to enable the College to live up to its proud achievements, and the traditions set by Harry Peake, Charles Martin and Gordon Brown in the hostile and competitive world of incorporated colleges. These traditions may at times appear old fashioned, even out of date in the "fast food" world of today, but the values they represent are as relevant and important now as they are likely to be in the next century.


The changes of the last three years have been demanding and quite extensive. A two-phase Restructuring Programme has reorganised the College from 26 departments down to three curriculum Divisions. The teaching staff has been reduced from 50 fte in 1995/6 to 40 fte today during a period when the support staff has been almost doubled. Student numbers have escalated from 635 students in 1995/6 to over 950 today. Inevitably this has had a significant impact on class sizes and staff workloads.

At the same time A-level results have improved significantly rising from an 85 % pass rate grades A-E in 1995 to 94 % today, with the top grades A-C at nearly 66 %. And in parallel there has been a major accommodation programme of £150-200,000 pa over the past 2-3 years on IT and on refurbishing the building; a remodelled Canteen, an extended and networked IT workshop, a remodelled library and numerous alterations to existing classrooms. All this at a time when government funding for further education has been reduced dramatically.

Over the last three years the College has therefore had to provide for 300 more students and invest some £0.5m in a major accommodation programme on the same budget it had in 1995/6 and with fewer teaching staff. The impact on staff workloads has been significant and demanding. However, once staff understood the reasons for these changes then they responded magnificently. Morale has been maintained, results have improved and students still enjoy the very personal and intense support from staff that has been the hallmark of the College.


It was this response and this spirit of "fierce" independence that persuaded the Corporation in November 1998 to reject the offers of merger from New College Nottingham, and from Broxtowe College nearby. This decision was reached after an extensive and fundamental review of the College finances and its strategic options carried out by both the College management and external consultants. The College's financial forecast showed a deteriorating balance sheet and a serious lack of investment capital whilst the competitive environment within Nottingham had intensified immensely with the creation of New College Nottingham (NCN), an amalgamation of Clarendon College, Basford Hall and latterly High Pavement Sixth Form College and Arnold and Carlton College of FE. This corporate giant with an annual budget well in excess of £40mnow threatened to engulf the whole of FE in Nottingham. Bilborough stood at a cross-roads and given its financial position and the external advice commissioned by the Corporation it should have joined High Pavement, and become a College within a College, a minor member of NCN.

Instead, persuaded by the staff's "dogged determination" to remain independent, the Corporation voted in favour of the proposal put forward by College Management to form a Strategic Partnership with Broxtowe College; a partnership of two equal and independent institutions rather than a conglomeration of many. It was with much relief that the College celebrated the New Year of 1999 as the sole remaining independent Sixth Form College in Nottingham.


The College is now enjoying the fruits of that decision. As numbers continue to grow and results rise, the new funding for further education has provided the College with a windfall of £189,000 and a budget for 1999/2000 of £2.4m, £300,000 above that in the previous year. The need for efficiency, the tightness of the budget and the pressure on staff workloads remain but the future looks more stable and more promising. The new financial forecast for 1999-2002 shows a small but healthy operating surplus and the College is still a category A College in terms of its financial health. It is a leaner - but hopefully not a meaner - organisation, more capable now of withstanding the changing winds of public funding and government priorities. It has carved out a very clear niche for itself as a major provider of 16-18 academic education. It has a strong and healthy intake of students and a growing reputation for academic excellence. The partnership with Broxtowe College is proving to be mutually beneficial and it is enabling the College to meet the government's agenda on widening participation and collaboration as well as that of achievement and quality. More importantly it now has the opportunity to begin to improve facilities and accommodation across the whole site.

So as the College nears the end of the 20th century it is in a stronger and healthier position to meet the needs, demands and challenges of the Millennium. It is very clear and very focused on its role within and contribution to post-16 education locally. It rests very firmly on its fundamental strengths and it is very focused on the 16-18 A-level market.


The College has no desire or ambition to grow beyond its "natural" boundaries. It is proud of and quite defensive of its size, its sense of community and its ability to provide the personal touch. It is very proud of and firmly rooted in the Sixth Form College tradition, a tradition based on high academic achievement, strong pastoral support, a rich and varied Enrichment Programme and a commitment to the needs and aspirations of 16-18 year olds. It celebrates these achievements and revives past memories through College Reunions and Leavers photos, rather than grand ceremonies. It aspires to being a centre of academic excellence within Nottingham and in the top 50 - or even top 30 - Colleges nationally.

Nottingham needs a strong vibrant and high quality Sixth Form College to provide and extend choice and to raise standards. With Curriculum 2000 - the government's latest initiative for broadening the curriculum and extending A-level choices - the College is in a strong position to access new funding and to grow in size and facilities.

As one member of staff succinctly, if sardonically, put it, 'The future is bright; the future is Bilborough'. Possibly he watches too many advertisements but the sentiment reflects the vision before the College, a vision written back in 1997 as part of the College's Strategic Plan, but one that still encapsulates the College ambitions and aspirations.


Vision Statement

The vision offered by the 1997-2000 Strategic Plan is a dynamic and exciting one. If its full potential is realised then by the Year 2000, Bilborough College will be a thriving Sixth Form College of 800-1000 full time students undertaking a wide variety of academic programmes based on A-level and GCSE Courses in preparation for the National Diploma, HE, FE and Employment. In the evening, at weekends and during holidays it will provide a range of courses, programmes and facilities for the local community, for adults, youngsters and employers. Its accommodation will have been significantly upgraded and remodelled and its campus enhanced by a Sports, Arts and Community Centre, a Technology and Conference Block and improvements to its grounds, driveway, car park and security.

At the heart of this vision is the maintenance and enhancement of Bilborough's reputation as a small, high quality academic institution with a reputation for outstanding achievement, friendliness and high standards of student support - the 'Family College' with the personal touch and a commitment to supporting the local community.

Behind this vision lies the staff. They are at the heart of the College. Their morale, their motivation and their professionalism will ultimately determine the success of this Plan and the quality of the service we provide.


The great obstacle to Bilborough aspirations, the one thing that is likely to prevent it realising its full potential, is its accommodation and its building.

Refurbishment alone will not give new life to a tired and outdated building, designed and built in 1957 for 550 school children and now attempting to house nearly 1000 16-19 year olds; designed and built as a grammar school for the 1950s not as a Sixth Form College for the Year 2000. It is sorely lacking in the quality and specialist facilities needed to support advanced learning. Its corridors and public spaces now groan with the weight - and size - of student numbers. Bilborough needs a new College to enter the New Age and developing a new accommodation strategy that incorporates new build with the redevelopment of the campus will be THE major challenge in the years ahead.

New buildings, new funding, new curricula, new initiatives do not however explain or embrace the character and the contribution of Bilborough College. Bilborough is as happy celebrating and commemorating the past as it is in planning for the future. It is rooted in the Sixth Form tradition and in the academic excellence represented by the gold standard of the A-level. It is rooted in the traditions of pastoral care and the development of the individual as a person as much as in scholarship or sporting achievement. Like that tradition it is enduring and endearing. It has the inner strength to resist change, and the seductive ability to adapt to it. Its commitment to maintaining high quality education and to promoting academic performance is well captured in its Mission Statement.


Mission Statement

Bilborough College is a Sixth Form College
dedicated to offering academic excellence in a
supportive environment to serious and
committed students

It is more effectively captured however in its students and in the way they describe the College and what it has added to their memories and experiences of learning. The letter below from a past student poignantly illustrates the spirit and ethos of Bilborough College.

"After spending the last two years at Bilborough College, I am writing to take the opportunity to thank all the staff I came into contact with for making my time there so enjoyable. Bilborough is, I feel, a very unusual institution, combining as it does, academic excellence and whole person development. The support I received in all three subjects, Biology, Chemistry and Maths, was comprehensive and suited to my individual needs. I feel that every effort was made to challenge and stretch my abilities as appropriate which fuelled my interest in the subjects. I would also like to note that I have seen this ethos of support applied not just to me but other students of every calibre.

I found that not only was academic support widely available, but also tutorial support, and this was useful to me especially as I settled in to Bilborough. Throughout the two years I took advantage of several of the extra curricular activities, such as debating, the mock trial group, and the 120 mile walk and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Many staff gave up valuable time and put much effort into making these, and other events, a success.

Without the help and support I received from the College staff, I feel I would not be looking forward to starting Cambridge University in a month's time. The last two years have been absolutely invaluable to me, Bilborough being a great change from anything I had previously met in my education, so thank you again. I hope that Bilborough is able to maintain such a marvellous learning environment."


Bilborough may not be big, it may not be bold but it has a strength of character and an inner determination that represents the best in English Education. That spirit, that commitment endure and sustain the College in fulfilling its mission even into the next century. The building may change, the curriculum may change, even the staff may change. Hopefully, however, the Ethos, the spirit of care and concern, of community and continuity, will not and so enable Bilborough College, its staff and its students, its governors and its constituents to enjoy and to celebrate learning well into the 21st century. That is what the past three years, the past 25 years, have been about. That is what the future holds.

Long may Bilborough College survive; long may it thrive; long may it continue to provide high quality education for youngsters about to enter the university of life.


Mike Robinson
18th September, 1999

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