Friday, 6 August 2010

A brief trip back in time

I got hold yesterday of an old copy of "Warwickshire & Worcestershire Life" - which I vaguely remember as a very expensive glossy upmarket monthly magazine, long since defunct (or at least in that particular format). What made it interesting for me is that it had an illustrated 4-page article - from December 1970 - about my old school. There was a bit of a historical introduction, but mainly it took the form of an extended interview with 'Fred' Williamson, my old Headmaster.

It was written around the time that successive governments were alternately introducing and then abandoning plans to turn education comprehensive and the article concluded (rather optimistically in the light of subsequent events) that it seemed "unlikely that there will be any dramatic change in status during the next four of five years". In fact by 1974 plans to 'go comprehensive' had been approved and Leamington College for Boys ended life as a grammar school three years later.

The Headmaster is quoted as saying that he foresaw the end of the eleven-plus in its then-current format but that he couldn't see how you could "avoid streaming in a comprehensive school with a wide IQ range". The article adds that streaming had been abandoned at the Boys College - which must've only just happened: it was still in full swing when I was a pupil there. Prompted presumably by the interviewer to sum up the school in a catch-phrase, "A good all-rounder" is used as the title for the piece. I think I'd tend to agree with that. It was an interesting choice of phrase, too, in the context of the present tendency for schools to push for some sort of particular specialism status, though I suppose arguably a grammar school is (or was) a specialism in itself?

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