Brincliffe Grammar Peter Spinks

Brincliffe Grammar School

Peter Spinks (former Deputy Head & Senior Mathematics Master)
From EDGE, April 2002:-

Some months ago Joan Flett wrote an account of the old Nether Edge Grammar School building on Union Road. Much of the material for the article was derived from old school magazines and I enjoyed reading it, for my first teaching post, in 1950, was at Nether Edge and I remained there for eight years.

It was a relatively small but very effective school, crammed to the gunnels with 400-500 boys. It was said that if a boy fainted during shcool assembly he would be propped up by his classmates and his plight discovered only when the boys around him began to leave the hall.

School life did not finish when, in August 1958, Nether Edge School left en masse to make its home in the new building on Hastings Road, where it was renamed Abbeydale Grammar School. In September a new school was opened in the old building and three of the Nether Edge staff – Albert Hill, Senc Boul and I – remained behind to facilitate the launch of Brincliffe Grammar School.

Nether Edge (and indeed many schools until that time) had been a boys school but Brincliffe was mixed. Teaching girls was a new experience for us but we found they were a very civilizing influence on the boys.

The school had to cater for three groups of pupils: some 240 11+ pupils of the post-war bulge; pupils of secondary modern schools who earlier had been unsuccessful in the 11+ exam and were delighted to have a second chance of a grammar school education at 13; and the artistically talented group of youngsters who had been pupils at the Junior College of Art, which used to be in the city centre.

Staffing had its difficulties but everything seemed to fall into place. Albert Hill, who had been appointed headmaster, had several contacts who were pleased to work with him once again. Their experience was a great help to the young and enthusiastic teachers, some of whom were in their first posts. The Junior College of Art closed and its staff transferred to Brincliffe. The other main group of teachers were married women, who nearly all seemed to want Fridays and Mondays off – this was something of a nightmare when we had to prepare the timetable! But Albert made a fine job of welding all this together to create a happy, effective and successful school.

Brincliffe was doing well when, in 1964/5, the now Home Secretary, David Blunkett, decided that the city’s grammar schools should close and be replaced by the comprehensive system. So, at the time when Myers Grove Comprehensive was opening, Brincliffe Grammar was preparing to close.

The school building, which is soon to be converted into a residential development, looks much as it always did. Some 3 or 4 years ago I did ask to be allowed to look round what had become by then the Local Authority’s Resource Centre. Internally the building had changed very little, and all sorts of memories of former pupils and staff from both Nether Edge and Brincliffe came flooding back, but externally most of the outbuildings had been demolished. The buildings across the road, behind the present bus stop, had housed the gymnasium/dining room and the science laboratories. These were taken over by the hospital authorities and converted into offices some years ago.

Albert Hill retired to Scalby Mills in the late 1960s but sadly died not long after moving. _



Brincliffe Grammar Peter Spinks — 2 Comments

  1. A very interesting account. However, David Blunkett was not Home Secretary in 1964, when he was only 17 years old, and if he had been, he wouldn’t have had the power to instruct Sheffield to go comprehensive.

    • Hi John – Thanks for your comment. I reproduced the information as contributed, it seems Spinks recollections were a bit muddled –

      The largest expansion of comprehensive schools resulted from a policy decision taken in 1965 by Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education in the 1964–1970 Labour government, a fervent supporter of comprehensive education. This had been the party’s policy for some time. The policy decision was implemented by Circular 10/65, an instruction to local education authorities to plan for conversion.

      In 1970 the Conservative Party re-entered government. Margaret Thatcher became Secretary of State for Education, and ended the compulsion on local authorities to convert. However, many local authorities were so far down the path that it would have been prohibitively expensive to attempt to reverse the process, and more comprehensive schools were established under Mrs Thatcher than any other education secretary. However, she went on to be a ferocious critic of comprehensive education. By 1975 the majority of local authorities in England and Wales had abandoned the 11-plus examination and moved to a comprehensive system

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