Thursday, 27 December 2018


        By Martin Jones

This is the fourth article on aspects of life in Old Coulsdon in 1963, and has been taken from ‘Purley Pulp’, an internal newspaper at Purley County Grammar School for Boys which I attended from 1960 to 1968. The author of the article was Hubbard in Form V, given name unfortunately not known.

My enquiries took me to several schools of various types in the immediate vicinity. This takes in Purley, Coulsdon and Kenley. The schools I visited were Keston Avenue Primary School, the Church of England Primary School, Roke Secondary, Purley County Grammar School for Girls and also the Boys’ Grammar School.
The two primary schools deal with children leading up to the ‘eleven-plus’ exam who live in the Old Coulsdon – Purley district. Keston Avenue Primary is better equipped with science apparatus and mechanical aids such as tape-recorders and radios, but the Church school has the higher percentage of pupils going to Grammar schools. The Keston Avenue Primary has 275 children with eight teachers, and the Church school has half that number of pupils and half the teachers. The church school is, historically, the older school but the buildings are all new and the children have modern surroundings. Keston Avenue has a much older building but there are more facilities for sport and they have their own swimming pool. Swimming is quite important and the school has three records to its credit. In both schools the children were happy, but I think the Church school children were better behaved and generally more polite. This is probably because it is considerably smaller than Keston Avenue. The Church school has a grant from the government, but the Church plays a very big part in the children’s education. Both headmistresses, Mrs Norris at Keston Avenue and Miss Ayling at the Church school agreed that what was needed were more teachers and more space.
The only secondary modern school I visited was Roke. I was met by the headmaster, Mr Dare, who not only told me about the school but was also kind enough to explain the education system to me.
Most of his pupils live around Purley but a few come from further away. The girls concentrate on commerce, and when they leave, they can type, do shorthand and are qualified to be secretaries. The boys tend to study the more useful subjects like maths, English and general science. Sometimes boys with four or five ‘O’ levels go into the sixth form of a grammar school to take ‘A’ levels. Roke has also been interested in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and has twenty ‘bronze’ awards, four silvers and a boy is all set for the first gold. The majority of pupils take only one or two GCEs but get school certificates.
The two grammar schools were the Boys’ school and the Girls’ school at Bradmore Green. The Boys’ school is an example of (? poor) planning: bits of buildings stuck on at odd places and half the field covered by the gym. The games side is very well looked after but there has been a slight slacking off in the past few years on the academic side. The headmaster, Dr Birchall, is quite happy with the buildings and the only thing he expressed a desire for was more playground space. There are 640 boys at the school with 36 masters. Most of the boys go from the school to either university or professional jobs. The majority of pupils live locally but about a third of them live a fair way away. I spoke to a few pupils who seemed quite content, but one or two of them did not like the Arts and Science division in the senior school.
The Girls’ school is almost the same as the boys to look at and is run on the same lines. The headmistress (? Miss Simpson) told me that most of her girls go to university or secretarial jobs. Most of the girls I spoke to gave the usual view of their school – ‘bearable’ – and none of them was going to university. There are several tennis courts which were is use at the time of my visit and a fair sized field. The staff were suspicious at first but when I explained my intrusion, they were extremely helpful. They showed me round and I spoke to quite a few of the girls.
From my survey, I draw the conclusion that the younger generation is well-behaved in this area, on the whole, and they have a respect for most of their teachers. In most cases, the buildings are inadequate but there are plans for something to be done about this. On the whole the local education system is sound.
Hubbard, Form V

A view of the local education system before the abolition of the 11+ exam and long before there was anything like equality of opportunity in schools!  The Girls’ grammar school was demolished following closure in 1988 and is now housing, whilst the Boys’ school became Coulsdon College at the same time and is now housed in modern purpose-built premises on the old Boys’ Grammar school site. Roke Secondary Modern School closed in 1969. Keston Avenue Primary is now known as Keston Primary School and has 420 pupils, whilst the Coulsdon Church of England Primary School has 210 pupils (all sources via Google).
It will probably come as no surprise to former pupils at the two Grammar schools that Hubbard was viewed with suspicion when he ‘intruded’ on the Girls’ school in 1963, relations between the two schools being as frosty at the time as those between the USA and the Soviet Union in the Cold War!      

1 comment:

Martin Jones said...

This article is reproduced from the Bourne Society's very informative Local History Records (Vol 96, Autumn 2018). The comments at the start and end are my own.

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