Stephen Pratt, headmaster 1963-1981, with school prefects, 1981 Stephen Pratt
with school prefects, 1981

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The 'sixties and 'seventies saw not only changes of approach at the school but also a large rebuilding programme, necessitated by a growing sixth-form and made possible during a period when finances available to education were increasing.

Use the scrollbar below to move from left to right to read this selection of staff and pupils' reminiscences describing life at the school during the 1960s and '70s

Even the school had to accept that 'times they were a changing'. Three pop groups performed to members of the fourth, fifth and sixth forms in Big School. What may well have made our 'reverend' headmasters shudder in their graves was a memorable and exciting experience for those of us there. Two groups, 'Count Downe and the Zeros' and 'Blue Streaks', were from the ranks of the fifth form. The third group, 'Rockin Equasions', was made up of members of class 4B, plus a bass guitarist from Stratford High School.

David Dumper, pupil 1960-1966, speaking in 1992

Saturday morning school was very like a normal school day except that we had detention in the afternoon.When it ended, I asked quite a number of boys what their feelings were about it and a lot said it was fine because they could do more things at the weekends. But others said that now they wasted Saturday mornings whereas previously they had been gainfully occupied.

Denis Dyson, physics master 1926-1975 and second master, speaking in 1983

PE Lesson, 1969
PE Lesson, 1969
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I cannot help recalling those turbulent years of rebuilding when practically everything, except the ancient courtyard, was knocked down and when I think of the things that happened - when Wilfrid Puddephat had to teach art in the cadet block; the masters' common room moved three times in two years. I used to wake up screaming in the middle of the night wondering if, after the latest spate of demolition, there would be a single loo left for any one in the morning!

Stephen Pratt, headmaster 1963-1981, speaking at the old boys reunion dinner in 1981

There was a great emphasis on competence but all had their own style and way of communicating interest. Mr Dyson's physics classes in the first year had a great sense of being explorative. If experiments went wrong, that was okay: that's what happens with experiments. Mr Smerdon's English classes had again a stronger explorative feel to them than other classes. These two classes had more to do about imagination and exploration and making mistakes. You could make mistakes and you felt that was legitimate: that was the way you learned.

Nicholas Colloff, pupil 1974-81, speaking in 1992

Cadets was taken by Major Price with the help of Captain Taylor and was always varied and enjoyable. The only negative side of cadets was the uniform. For most of us it was always ill-fitting, irritating to the skin and I personally detested having to use the blanco every Thursday night to clean the belt and gaiters of the uniform. It wasn't the energy expended, it was purely the feel of the stuff. It had the same sort of effect on me as a piece of chalk scrapping against a blackboard has on other people.

David Dumper, pupil 1960-1966, speaking in 1992

Neville Evans with the 1st XV rugby team, 1973
Rugby 1st XV, 1973
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Of the three members of staff that directed school plays, Mrs Brace seemed to have the grandest ideas. Her summer productions, which were usually performed out-of-doors around the old buildings, were tremendous fun to be in. Perhaps the most popular was "A Little Latin and Less Greek" which we did twice in Big School. As with all these events, for so they were, Mrs Brace used a huge cast of boys and she had the skills of Cecil B de Mille in controlling such a large number of performers.

Tim Raistrick, pupil 1975-1982, speaking in 1992

In my six-and-a-half years there have been eight head boys. [There was] Paul Schober, the one with the continually filled chipped cup of coffee; the one with the four felt pens clipped to the back of an ominous green notebook. You were written down in blue for going in to dinner early, red for arriving late at school, black for talking in chapel and green for cheeking Paul Schober. At the end of 1971 summer term every member of the school had become a Neapolitan delicacy.

Tim Pashley, pupil 1966-73, writing in the school magazine in 1972

Mr Holland's class stood out because it was one of the few forms that you were seated according to your ability: Mr Adams' was another. You went towards the back as you got better - most of them were ranked according to alphabetical order. You moved each term, backwards and forewards. In the case of geography I usually was quite near the back and in the case of French quite near the front.

Nicholas Colloff, pupil 1974-81, speaking in 1992

The Friday afternoon activity in the sixth form was voluntary social service. We went to see a Miss Goode who lived in Mulberry Street. We took her out in the wheelchair occasionally but most of the time we sat and ate cakes and drank tea and talked with her and she was fascinating on her childhood. Some people had people who made them go shopping, put up shelves, garden and so forth; our social service was rather more befriending.

Nicholas Colloff, pupil 1974-81, speaking in 1992

It always amazed me how, in the time it took Sergeant to walk from the corner of the memorial library to the tuck shop, having rung the bell for the end of lessons, a large crowd of boys had always managed to gather in front of the counter.

The attractions of the tuck shop were not only the acquiring of the Mo-Jo's, Twix's or cans of Coke, but also the friendly banter which Sergeant kept up with his customers.

Tim Raistrick, pupil 1975-1982, speaking in 1992

English lesson in Big School, 1981
Big School, 1981
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The guest of honour, Mr Michael Williams, gave a short address and declared the fete open… 3x offered a number of challenging tests of skill in their form room, while the first and second forms did the same in a range of enterprising sideshows in the bicycle sheds. In SH11 there was a display of boys' hobbies, including a magnificent array of toy soldiers and a model gear set. The chemistry laboratory afforded a number of interesting experiments, including one on the dyeing of materials and the purification of water.

Francis O'Meara, pupil 1966-1973, writing in the school magazine in 1971

Many pupils on leaving think that the school stops at that point and thereafter 'things ain't what they used to be'. There are bound to be physical changes: the 'passing' of the school cap for most members of the school; no Saturday morning school… Great progress has been made in many directions, for example the wonderful new pavilion. The Friends have provided a splendid mini bus, the scouts have raised £552 by collecting waste paper. Lastly there is the social service performed by the sixth form.

Stephen Pratt, headmaster 1963-1981, speaking at the old boys reunion dinner in 1981

Other resources

That they were in conflict, that was a very interesting thought, a thought that adults, teachers, could actually be in conflict with one another about how they were going to do something, about how they were going to teach
Read more from Nicholas Colloff's account of his time as a pupil

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