OLD PHAROSIANS’ ASSOCIATION
New Series No. 59
Selected verses from Psalm 15
Officers of the Association
The President’s Letter
The Future of the School
NEWS OF THE ASSOCIATION
The Annual General Meeting
Soccer match, School v Old Boys
The Annual Dinner
Cricket match, School v Old Boys
Committee meeting, 8th November
The School in the 1920’s
An Old Pharosian selected cricket XI
In Memory Long
Kenneth Best Memorial concert
Addresses of Members
NEWS OF THE SCHOOL
End of summer term assembly
Advanced Level subjects studied and outstanding successes
1st XI soccer and Photograph
End of Autumn Term Assembly
NEWS OF INDIVIDUAL OLD BOYS
Other Old Boys
Old Boys who obtained degrees this year
From Psalm 15
A Psalm of David
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell on thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour.
He that doeth these things may never be moved.
OFFICERS OF THE ASSOCIATION
|President:||W.R. Fittall, Esq.
55 West Hill Road, London SW18 1LE
|Vice President:||R.C. Colman, Esq.
Ivy House, Church Path, Mongeham. Deal
|Secretary:||Philip Harding, Esq.
6 Chestnut Road, Elms Vale. Dover CT17 9PY
|Treasurer:||Ian Pascall, Esq.
45a Bewsbury Cross Lane, Whitfield, Dover CT16 3EZ
|Editor:||K.H. Ruffell, Esq.
193 The Gateway, Dover CT16 ILL
|Membership Secretary:||R. Gabriel, Esq.
St. Edmund’s School, Old Charlton Road, Dover CT16 2QB
|Assistant Secretary:||C. Henry, Esq.|
|Archivist:||S. Wenborn, Esq.|
Committee Members: all the above officers and the past president, J. Le Prevost
the acting headmaster, N. Slater the head prefect, David Cloke
staff representatives: D. Murray, N. Horne, K. Chambers
OP representatives: M. Palmer and P Burville (to 1991)
M. H. Smith and R. Winter (to 1992)
T. Sutton and R. Gabriel (to 1993)
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Old Pharosians,
I was surprised and delighted to have been asked to become the first president of the Association from the Hinton and Colman eras.
I cannot pretend to have been a very active member of the Association since leaving school in 1972. Like many others who move away from Dover after university and get immersed in making a career (in my case in the Home Office) and raising a family (sons of 8 and 6) I have not found it easy to maintain old links. The Christian faith and love of music which I both acquired in Dover have kept me busy at weekends in London as a lay reader and fairly regular organist at our local parish church.
But I have always enjoyed keeping in touch through reading this newsletter (for which we owe Ken Ruffell a vast debt of gratitude) and it has been a pleasure in recent months to De able to re-establish more direct contact with the school. I have become particularly conscious of the hard work done by a small group of key people on the Committee to keep the Association in good shape for the rest of us.
It is disconcerting to have to confess to nostalgia at my (relatively) tender age. Yet being in regular contact again with the school has unlocked a host of memories which must have been in cold storage. What was the school like in the 1960’s?
By the time that I climbed the school hill for my first day as a Grammar School boy in September 1964 I was already conscious of the privileges which we had compared with our parents’ generation. Both of my parents had been born and brought up in Dover and like most children of the inter-war years they had received their entire education in one school and left at the age of 14. My father had been called up in 1942 when he reached 18 and had spent the next 4 years in the army. By contrast the first formers of 1964 had all been born in the reign of our present Queen. We took peace pretty much for granted. We assumed that we would stay at school until we were at least 16, probably 18, and with 3 years at university or college after that a distinct possibility.
We had witnessed the beginnings of the consumer revolution in the late-1950’s and were just about the last group of children among whom were those who could remember what it was like not to have a fridge, a television, a washing machine, a spin dryer or even a hot water system and an indoor lavatory. We remembered the last steam trains that ran between Dover and London in the late 1950’s, the first manned space flight, the arrival of the Beatles.
Privilege and change remain my strongest memories of life at the Grammar School between 1964 and 1972. Just how privileged we were, not only in comparison with our predecessors but with many of our contemporaries, was a bone of contention for all of my time at school. A month after I started in the first form Harold Wilson won the general election. David Ennals took the marginal seat of Dover for Labour and debate quickly arose over whether the grammar schools should be replaced by the comprehensive system. Were the privileges which we enjoyed giving us an unfair advantage over those of our primary school classmates who had gone to the secondary moderns?
Many of us found it a genuinely difficult question. The 11+ system seemed hard to defend. Yet would those of us from ordinary families (the vast majority) still have as good an opportunity to compete for university places and good jobs beyond if there were no grammar schools to help us on our way? We were not so sure and there was a good deal of relief when proposals for reorganisation ran into the sand.
Throughout my time at the school we had a constant sense of being at the leading edge of change. We were the first class to occupy the new general science lab, the first to learn French audio-visually. The first to do modern maths and Nuffield biology. We were the last to be streamed into A, B, X and Y, the last to start Latin in the second year and one of the last to wear the dreaded school caps.
We were fortunate in having as masters some who had taught at the school for many years (Coulson, Kendall, King, Ruffell), others who were well settled in for what eventually proved to be a long run (M Smith, Page, Paine, Horne, Denham, Best) and others who came and for a brief time enlivened the place before moving on to further challenges (Evans, Freeman, Howie, Dicks, Mermagan).
We were also fortunate in occupying a building which was still in reasonably good nick after 35 years’ service and had grounds which had not been turned into a pedestrian short cut for the pupils of a neighbouring school. One of the most depressing things returning to the school is the way in which the county have allowed the fabric of the school and state of the grounds to deteriorate.
Now it looks as if the building may not be ours for much longer. Ken Ruffell’s report sets out the background and summarises the present position. When your Committee discussed the planned move at some length in November three things were clear:
- We very much welcomed the prospects of a merged sixth form for the boys and girls grammar schools and possibly of a full merger of the two schools in due course;
- We were very uneasy about giving up the present building unless something at least as good – and preferably better – was on offer. Those of us who subsequently visited Castlemount were firmly of the view that the grammar school was in fact being offered a very poor deal;
- We all wanted to continue our support for the school whatever the future might hold.
Why have events taken the turn that they have? We are at last reaping the harvest of years of indecision over the future shape of secondary education in Dover. indecision which dates from that first failed attempt at reorganisation in 1965/66. If the Kent County Council and their education advisers still really believed in the grammar school system it is hard to believe that they would be proposing a move which is bound in many respects to impoverish the life of the boys grammar school. At the very least there would be a long term plan where the eventual benefits would warrant any temporary inconvenience. There is no such plan. At best there are vague promises about further building schemes if, land is sold, if funds are available, if…
We are also suffering from years of under-funding of our school. This has taken its toll in two ways. First it has led to such a deterioration in the building that some of those who work there now think that life might be more congenial elsewhere. Second it has produced an almost constant worry about how the school is going to pay for sufficient teaching staff in the next academic year. The financial insecurities of the minor public school are now commonplace in county schools. This is not a recipe for providing good quality education of the kind we had in the 1960’s and many of you had in earlier years.
It may be, as Dr Hinton said, that the model of secondary education under which grammar schools flourished in the 1960’s has had its day. It may be that we would have been better to have had a properly thought through and adequately funded comprehensive reorganisation years ago. I remain agnostic. Provided we always treat with equal importance the pursuit of excellence and the provision of developmental opportunities for all children, irrespective of ability. I am not sure that at the end of the day the choice of system is the most important issue.
What really matters is that schools have well trained staff who have a commitment to do at least a full day’s work and are given the resources and surroundings they need to produce the goods. None of that need be incompatible with the new emphases on budgets and management. But sadly we seem in Dover to be suffering from the obsession with short term financial expediency. Major issues about the future shape of secondary education and the location of schools are being decided on the hoof. Instead of finding what is right for the medium and longer term. people are having to ask what will best ensure that sixth form curriculum can be delivered next September.
Neil Slater and his staff have a difficult job keeping the show on the road in the midst of all this uncertainty. Our job as an Association is both to give them what support we can and to press the argument for sound long term solutions which will enable the future children of Dover to have the sort of opportunities which were afforded to us.
W R Fittall.
The Future of the School
Editor’s view Proposals are being made and could possibly be implemented next September.
The Director of Educational Services for our area has written “the Dover Boys’ Grammar School occupies imposing buildings (adjacent to Astor Upper School) with very good playing fields.” It is now proposed as a possibility that these buildings and playing fields may be taken over by Astor School and we go to Castlemount School on the east side of Dover. Castlemount School stands virtually empty with solely one small playing area and much sloping, untended wilderness.
There are two main reasons for these proposals.
- Money is at the root of most educational problems today. For the academic years 1989-90 and 1990-91 income and expenditure can be balanced. Beyond that time period, with falling rolls, we will have about five teachers above staffing allowances for a school with 500 pupils. Some twenty subjects are taught in the sixth form to Advanced Level examinations where 86% success is achieved. It is a matter for judgement whether such a broad choice is necessary. The Girls’ Grammar School is in a comparable situation and the governors of both schools are agreed and have voted that to maintain and pay for a desired spread of sixth form subjects the boys and girls must merge their sixth form teaching time-tables. It is not now possible to finance a skilled, experienced, expensive teacher with a small class of students in a least popular subject.
- The expansion of Astor School to about 1160 students now and an anticipated 1350 in three years time needs immediate addition of accommodation on its present site. Their fields on the other side of Astor Avenue, together with land over the hill southward to Westmount on the Folkestone Road, are to be sold for an estimated £2 million to finance impending changes and refurbishments to school buildings involved.
How have these problems arisen? To varying degrees the answer involved falling birth rates, parental choice of schools, free transport to and from chosen schools and the almost universal parental motor cars.
Until about 1975 we had a cycle shed. Now all approach roads in the Tower Hamlets – Astor Avenue area are flanked by cars of residents without garages. Through these narrowed ways every morning and tea-time buses and parental cars thread their way. This problem of access is not beyond remedy but it limits the possibility of building a Girls Grammar School in our area, perhaps on our fields.
Parents send primary school children to their nearest school. When their children come to secondary school age the parents are asked to express choice and are encouraged to, visit schools. If a a parent expresses a wish for a grammar school place then the determining factor is the opinion of the primary head teacher. The two grammar schools have not lowered their standards for admissions so falling birth rates have caused falling intakes and smaller sixth forms. Parental requests for grammar school places remain high; as they are also for the R. C. St. Edmund’s Comprehensive School in Old Charlton Road near the Girls Grammar School. Remarkably, more grammar school pupils come from outlying areas than from Dover town area.
There are three secondary modern schools in Dover. Astor school has proved extremely attractive. It is certainly a good school with favourable situation and buildings.
Archer’s Court School draws from a vast housing estate on the north-east edge of town and from villages. Archer’s Court school has splendid playing fields and good buildings.
Castlemount school has lost scholars because of the greater attraction of Astor school. Parents have voted with their feet. The Secretary of State for Education has closed the school and the last class will leave an empty building in June.
The Roman Catholic Comprehensive School on a restricted site with a large intake drawn from a wide area would like to go to Castlemount.
But the governors of both grammar schools, after careful consideration of options presented by the Area Education Officer, have voted to send our Grammar School for Boys to Castlemount because a ten-minute walk along Castle Avenue will facilitate a merging of sixth form studies. A joint sixth form centre might be built at some future date.
It is proposed that we are to give up our present impressive buildings, playing fields, facilities and traditions gathered over sixty years. I have never seen an assembly hall to rival ours in any State school.
We would move to buildings that no one could call impressive, and indeed have very serious failings: there are huts that are surrounded by minimal playing space and at present areas of untended shrubbery.
In theory boys can be bussed to a playing field at Kearsney. The Castlemount headmaster says that this arrangement did not work with his school. His school has a splendid gymnasium, perhaps to compensate for lack of outdoor exercise. Do you, Old Pharosians, remember cross-country runs over Whinless Down and the soccer, rugby, cricket, athletics and swimming on our fields? Mr Fred Whitehouse will be turning in his grave.
All-is not finalised. The attitude of the Girls Grammar School, with a new head-teacher, is not known. There is to be a public meeting on the matter on 8th January. After final local consideration of options, any decision may have to go to the Secretary of State’s Office. Then much building repair work has to be agreed, put out to tender, approved and completed. So September is a doubtful date.
Many will feel that the transference of our school from what we regard as the best secondary school buildings in the area with good playing fields to the worst buildings with virtually no playing fields would have quite disastrous results. Parents at the margins of our catchment area, such as Deal, Aylesham, Shepherdswell and Capel, would see our sad state and go to Manwoods, Simon Langton and Harvey Grammar School, all schools with excellent academic records comparable to our own and who have maintained the full games programme traditional to grammar schools.
The price being asked of us for balancing the books and for sixth form co-operation is too high. Other ways must be found. The quickest, cheapest solution is not often the best.
Should the worst be imposed upon us, it will be hoped that some 650 Old Pharosians who read this Newsletter, whatever their feelings which I understand and share, will maintain their support for the school at this time and in the future.
The school will lose a great deal but will gain, hopefully, a stronger sixth form which is the crown of a good grammar school; and good grammar schools which give opportunity to young people of above average ability are essential to the well-being of this nation.
A Governor’s view
Your editor sent me a copy of his draft of “The Future of our School” and asked for my comments. I felt that rather than comment on it point by point it might be helpful if I gave you an indication of the reasoning which has been going through governors’ minds during this very difficult time.
Mr Ruffell has kindly agreed to this and whilst much of what follows is a repeat of what he has written, I hope that Old Pharosians will feel that it contributes to the discussion. Firstly, can I set out the two main restraints under which the governing body is working. Local management and Formula Funding.
Under local management the governing body is given a sum of money with which to run the school. It used to be possible to go back to the LEA and try to convince them that the budget which had been set was unworkable. If this approach was successful, more money might be forthcoming (and frequently was, especially for grammar schools). This is no longer possible. We are given a budget and have to balance this budget however difficult or painful this may be.
By law the budget is determined by a formula such that 85% of our income is directly related to the number of pupils on roll.
Demography has determined that we now take in approximately 70 (120)* new pupils each year. This leads to a sixth form of approximately -100 (170) and a total roll of 450 (770). From these figures our budget is calculated. And for next year this is likely to be sufficient to pay about 27 (45) teaching staff, a reduction of 5 or 6 on our current establishment.
Our problem is that with a staff of 27 and a sixth form of 100 we are finding it impossible to provide the wide curriculum which we have delivered for the past 20 years and which Dover and Deal parents have come to expect of us.
Developments in 16 – 19 education are all leading towards the expectation of more flexible staff and the provision of an even wider curriculum. If the school cannot provide such a curriculum and neighbouring schools can and do, we shall simple lose our students to them.
* 1982 figures shown in brackets
What courses of action are open to us?
We have very little control over the annual intake. The LEA have arranged the selection procedure such that 25% of Kent’s children attend grammar schools. It is argued (and I think, correctly) that to increase this percentage would so lower the standard that what resulted was not a grammar school as we know it.
We can (and do) try our hardest to ensure that all the selective children in our catchment area do in fact attend DGSB. We don’t let many (perhaps one or two a year) slip through the net.
As everyone is aware we have been discussing a merger with the Girl’s Grammar School. However they have been remarkably unforthcoming. They are prepared to accept a full merger of the two sixth forms and whilst they are also prepared to “investigate” the possibility of a full merger we are being pressed not to approach the matter “like bulls at a gate” for fear of scaring them! It looks as though a full merger is a distinct possibility but not for 2 – 3 years.
We have tried co-operation at sixth form level in one or two subjects and have found it remarkably difficult for this to run smoothly due to the distance and the busy town roads which separate us.
Our conclusion therefore, is that we either whither on the vine or do something positive. Neither I nor any other member of the governing body is prepared to countenance the former and are thus following the only course which, after very long and careful consideration appears open to us.
That is a move to the spacious, modern buildings at Castlemount which the LEA have agreed to renovate to our needs. We shall then be in a position to merge our sixth form with the girls and be in a position to accept them as full partners in a large, new, prestigious grammar school when they have got over their initial reticence.
It may not have the playing field area on site that we have at present but since the long teachers’ strike, games regrettably have formed a much smaller part of school life. But we would be very close to the extremely well equipped Dover Sports centre.
It does have very adequate teaching provision. But it is of course different. We all turn a blind eye to the shortcomings of our own familiar environment and those of us who know the DGSB buildings are no different. But I am sure that those who have looked at both sets of buildings with a dispassionate eye do not detect any marked disadvantages from moving.
Nostalgia is a very strong emotion and I fully realise the feeling of the ex-members of staff who oppose the move.
However, I am very encouraged by the strong support of the Old Boys on the governing body who, whilst regretting the necessity, are wholeheartedly behind the proposals for change.
We should like to feel that we have all Old Boys behind us and urgently seek your help. Please do discuss the proposals with either me or Neil Slater (or any other governor for that matter) and do, please try to support us through this very difficult period in the school’s history.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Saturday 15th September at 11 am
John Le Prevost presided Members present included Ian Pascall. William Fittall, Bob Winter, Maurice Smith, Ken Ruffell, Mick Palmer, Alfred Gunn, Bert Stone, John Borrett, Arch Coulson, Ian Bird, Roger Gabriel, Dick Standen, Nigel Horne, Reg Colman, Denis Weaver, John Maynard, Peter Burville and Denis Gibb.
Apologies were received from E H Baker, Philip Ewer, W S Burville and others.
The meeting stood in silent thought to remember the recent deaths of Bernard Harrison and some other members of varying ages.
Philip Harding sent his report as Secretary, paying tribute to John Le Prevost for his care of the Association through the past year.
The Treasurer produced; as ever, wonderfully clear information about our finances. His financial statement is printed elsewhere in this Newsletter. He expressed the view that we should give to the school so as to justify our charitable status. We have recently helped in the purchase of a folding machine and discussion turned to the purchase of some hardware for the school’s computer department. Our bank manager was proposing to levy charges on our account and our treasurer was given full authority to shop around and act as he saw fit in the interest of the Association.
The President spoke of his pleasure at resuming his links with the school. His year had been one in which he had needed hospital treatment but Association officers had kept him in touch. During his stay in a Buckland hospital ward a senior boy had been in a nearby bed and John had been favourably impressed by his friends from the school. He thanked William Fittall who had chaired some meetings during his year.
John Le Prevost then handed over to William Fittall the badge of office. William expressed his pleasure at assuming the Presidency twenty years after he had been Head Prefect in Mr Colman’s first year as Headmaster.
Mr Colman said how pleased he would be to act as Vice-president in the present year and to follow William Fittall in 1991-2.
The Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Archivist, Newsletter editor, Auditor and Membership Secretary were all willing to continue.
There was only one withdrawal from the committee. Alfred Gunn, who was at school form 1919 to 1924; wished to retire and he was thanked for his long service to the committee and the Association.
The school staff would be represented by Nigel Horne, David Murray and Keith Chambers.
Any Other Business brought forward a crop of topics that necessarily and usefully continued the meeting until 12.45.
Peter Burville reported progress with work on the formation of a Data Base to store school archival material. He praised the work of the sixth form boy, Paul Morris, who had worked on this project as part of his success in achieving A level in Computing. The project could be of similar use by other sixth form students. Several members present showed willingness to help in identifying names of people in school photographs. To help Mr Dale in the computer department the Treasurer proposed and all agreed, that £500 be made available from Association funds. Neil Slater raised the matter of organ repair costs and no doubt committee will consider this never-ending but totally necessary expenditure.
Neil Slater, Acting headmaster, then gave his view of current developments in the matter of the future of this school and other Dover schools. He emphasized that Governors now have full control of all schools. Denis Weaver and Neil Slater are on our school’s governing body.
Numbers in the school have fallen to about 500. In the 5th year there are now only 63 boys, of whom almost all will enter the 6th form. There are now some 20 sixth form subjects being offered for study and examination. To offer 20 subjects to 45 boys is not financially possible, nor could we manage if, as expected, 60 boys were to be in each 6th form year. We have many of the most able boys in the area but it may be necessary and desirable to take in a larger number, after the practice of many other western countries.
Sharing a common sixth form programme with the other grammar school in the town is under consideration but distance apart raises real difficulties.
Our neighbouring Astor Secondary School have about 1300 students whom they would like to assemble all on one site.
Our own buildings and approach roads need expensive attention. The outcome may be that finance will be found to extend Astor School buildings to bring all their expanding school on to one site and also to thoroughly overhaul and refurbish our own buildings.
Other possibilities are being examined and decision is not in sight. It is pleasing to record that both the Dover Grammar Schools are achieving around 90% pass rate in Advanced Level examinations.
A very youthful Old Boys side, half were still in their teens, recorded a comfortable victory over the school team in this year’s match for the Andrew Kremer Memorial Cup.
After a tentative start by both sides, the Old Boys scored four times before half-time and although the School reduced the arrears in a spirited comeback at the start of the second half, two late goals made the final score 6-1.
The Old Boys were represented by: Dave Palmer, Chris King. Paul San Emeterio, Keith Betts, Simon Jones, Neil Beverton, Andy Running, Duncan Tucker, Jason Oliver, Steve Blake, Paul Betts, Warren Parfitt, Glenn Elliot and Nick Corbo.
This report was kindly contributed by Mick Palmer who assembles and manages the Old Boys XI.
THE ANNUAL DINNER
SATURDAY 15th SEPTEMBER at 6.45 pm for 7.30
About 95 people sat down to dine together – Old Pharosians, their ladies and some of the school prefects. The head prefect proposed the loyal toast. The organ was played by the new music-master. Mr Richard Davies.
William Fittall spoke of the honour he felt in coming to the Presidency only 20 years on from being head prefect. He welcomed Mrs King among those present, a lady who took charge of feeding the school in the ten years of post-war rationing. William spoke of the changes in presentation of school subjects during those years while his personal memories were of participation in school drama and music.
He recalled the first time when Mr Best took the school carol service to Chariton Church. Like many other boys since 1931, William learned to be an organist. Again, at this time we are confronting great changes and we must give our support to Mr Neil Slater. The toast to the school was honoured with more than usual feeling.
In reply Mr Slater maintained that in all major respects the school was in good order. As Headmaster No. 4.5 in the school history he was pleased to report that exam results were excellent.
The curricular change was for increasing range of subjects, both academic and vocational. He was aiming for style, personal integrity and a true sense of values. The school sixth formers were again wearing full school uniform so that at school assemblies in hall he looked with pleasure at 500 neat and tidy boys.
He was pleased that Old Pharosians were often in the news and helped create the image of the school. He asked Old Pharosians to keep turning up at such occasions as this Dinner and in doing so help to sustain the nature of this place as one of education and learning.
Friday 6th July, at the school
A 20 – overs match was arranged and the Old Boys batted first. They scored 130 for 7 wickets off their 20 overs, their main scorers being Mike Palmer with 35 and Lee Swinerd with 46.
When the school batted they scored 106 for 6 wickets and all the Old Boys bowled two overs each except the wicket keeper, Dave King.
The Old Boys were represented by Mike Palmer, Derek Russ, Ian Pascall, Lee Swinerd, John Morgan, Jez Weaver, Paul Weaver, Dave King, Tom Padfield, Ray Durrant and Jack Kremer.
The umpires were Brian Burr and a parent.
Jack Kremer gathers an Old Boys team every year and the Association is very grateful to him.
Committee meeting on Thursday 8th November
The Association had assisted the school in the purchase of a folding machine and a filing cabinet.
Treasurer reported that our account at Lloyds bank held £257.86 and at the Woolwich Building Society we had £5,038.56. In December we could expect about £500 in interest which would approximately meet the cost of two issues of the Newsletter in a year. The Association’s £100 War Loan Stock certificate has been found at Lloyds Bank.
Our efficient Membership Secretary reported via the Treasurer that about twenty annual subscribers, mainly recent school leavers, were in default. Ken Ruffell and Maurice Smith were asked to look into the matter.
The Newsletter editor gave an account of present methods of production. He added that after 22 productions in eleven years since he retired from the school he wondered how many more issues he would undertake. If anyone would like to take over this worthwhile work the editor would be glad to know. Editor promised to be responsible for the issues covering the presidencies of William Fittall and Reg Colman.
The Archivist reported that three times a month for 3 hour sessions the two archivists were loading information onto file. Some 900 names had already been recorded. John Borrett was helping with identification of individuals in long past photographs.
The first eight items on the agenda were steered smoothly and expeditely by the President so as to reach the main topic for the evening, the Future of the School.
Mr Neil Slater, Acting Headmaster, gave a review of progress. There was now a firm proposal by the school governors that the school should move to Castlemount School which was now reduced to some 40 boys and girls who would leave before September. The Castlemount site is within 20 minutes walk of the Girls Grammar School via Castle Avenue and a joint Sixth Form programme could be planned.
Neither school expected to have over about 120 sixth form students so provision for a wide range of choice of subjects by an appropriate staffing could only be managed by working together.
The governors had met on the previous evening and clearly resolved to support the merging of sixth forms.
The Area Education Officer favours this development and the matter now moves to County in a week’s time and public consultation in January.
There followed much discussion of possible alternatives including the continuation of Dover Grammar School for Boys in its present buildings.
A meeting of the Governors of both the boys’ and girls’ grammar schools was planned for November 20th. This could be a very decisive meeting. But there was some evidence of doubt about the wishes of the governors of the girls’ school and your committee felt we should seek some stay of execution so that alternatives could be considered. William Fittall, as President, drafted a letter which would go next morning to some half dozen persons at the heart of the matter.
There was general agreement that the objective was to provide the best education for the young of today and the future. But this objective might not be best served by the quickest, easiest, cheapest solution.
The reader will find it easy to believe that the meeting continued from 7pm for almost three hours under the admirable chairmanship of William Fittall.
THE SCHOOL IN THE 1920’s by Alfred Gunn (1918-24)
What was the Dover County School like in the 1920’s?
From an academic point of view it was much the same as at present: the same high standard had to be obtained and maintained; possibly in those days there was a little more respect for authority and more conventions to be observed. Considerable store was set on amicable relations with the town or towns from which pupils were drawn. There was a conventional standard of dress, not too rigid, but it was compulsory to wear a cap – a cap with the county crest on the front (it was after all, a County school) and on it a star denoting the House to which the wearer belonged – dark blue for Buckland, light blue for Town, green for Country and red for Maxton. On Sundays in summer straw hats were worn, the hat band being of blue edged with red, the school colours.
To the brim of the hat was attached a “hat guard” whose other end was firmly anchored to the lapel of the coat, so that if the wind raised that hat before its owner could, then at least he didn’t have to chase it down the street. Woe betide any boy who did not raise his hat or his cap to adults accompanying a boy wearing a similar type of headgear.
Boys in the lower forms wore short trousers and always a celluloid stiff collar which was worn over the top of the jacket.
Long trousers were not de riguer until one had reached the upper second or third forms.
I first joined the school at St. Hilda’s on Priory Hill, a house lent to the school by the governors of Dover College. While I was at St. Hilda’s the premises in Frith Road came into being. The staff for the lower forms were generally ladies and Fanny Ellis, Soapy Hudson (at that time a soap called Hudson’s was widely advertised) and of course Miss Rookwood. We went from Priory Hill to what is now the Technical College in Ladywell for woodwork. I can well remember presenting my parents with a wooden egg-holder which held four eggs in a circle. My next venture was a yacht which never did get finished!
The school at that time was fee-paying. I never did know how much my parents had to fork out, but I believe it was about £12 a year. There were Scholarship boys who paid no fees and Junior Exhibitions, open to established pupils who, having passed a set examination by attaining a certain standard, received the same status as Scholarship boys. I just happened to be one of those lucky ones!
It was indeed a great day when the whole school moved to the premises in Frith Road. It was a spanking new building with two storeys above a ground floor. An extra storey, as the school stands at present, was added when the Girls County School took over. They had previously been accommodated in Maison Dieu Road under Miss Chapman as headmistress.
There was a certain famous boiler-room presided over by Sgt. Major Coombs. Outside the boiler-room was the school notice-board. No one was allowed to post a notice except with permission of a member of staff who would add initials at the bottom of the notice. Past the boiler room a door led on the east side to the lower playground, the bicycle shed, toilet and fives courts. On the right was the woodwork room, later converted to two additional classrooms.
There were laboratories and class rooms on both floors. On the upper floor were kitchens and the dining room. The Art room had a north light and here Mr Francis the Art master reigned supreme.
Talking of staff reminds me of many names I knew but which have slipped into the recesses of the mind. I remember S.F. Willis who first appeared at the school in his military uniform with machine gun badges on the lapels of his tunic showing that the had been commissioned in the Machine Gun Corps: Poole, with us for only a short time, in his Naval uniform, the most perfect shot with a piece of chalk. I wondered if he served the Navy as a gunnery officer. There were still ladies on the staff; Miss Rookwood, of course, Miss Brown, Miss Edwards and of course the never to be forgotten Mrs Thomas, wife of Jerry Thomas. They lived next door to the school in Frith Road. She was a hunch-back and fears were at one time expressed that, if she were taken on the staff, the boys would make fun of her. Nothing was further from our thoughts! She was a brilliant teacher and an altogether lovely person. I remember one Christmas when all the forms collected and gave her a tiny silver vase with our love. She was in tears when it was presented to her and her husband. Jerry Thomas, came to her and thanked everyone for their kindness to her. After that they arranged a Christmas party for the whole form at their house.
Other members of the staff who could not be forgotten were Messrs Tomlinson, Darby, Pearce, Fennell who was succeeded by “Spud” Slater who taught history his way. Whereas befor