Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:Use British English Template:Distinguish2 Template:Infobox UK school Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School is a mixed-sex grammar school with academy status located in Hurst Road (A222), Sidcup in the London Borough of Bexley, England. It is located adjacent to Lamorbey Park, the Rose Bruford College drama school and Hurstmere Foundation School. Pupils at the school are divided into a series of six houses, known as Davies, Edlemann, Lester, Townshend, Williams, and Staff, while an annual school magazine, The Chronicle, is also produced by the students. The current head teacher is Nigel Walker, who has held that position since 2009.

Founded as the Sidcup County School for Boys in 1931 to meet the lack of secondary schools in the newly urbanised town, it was initially opened at 27 Station Road, with the position of first headmaster being given to Dr. C.R. McGregor Williams. In 1935, the school began moving into a purpose-built site at Critall's Corner, Footscray near Chislehurst, being renamed Chislehurst and Sidcup County School in 1938. Damaged during the Blitz, after the culmination of the Second World War, local education reforms led to the school being moved to a new location in Hurst Road.

In 1954, McGregor Williams stood down as headmaster after 23 years in the post, dying later that year. With a growing number of students, the school moved to a larger site in Hurst Road soon after. The school rose to national headlines in January 1983 following the suspension of most of the school's sixth form for drinking alcohol at the preceding Christmas party.


Foundation: 1930

Having been an agricultural village since the Late Middle Ages, the Kentish town of Sidcup began to urbanise following the opening of Sidcup railway station on the South Eastern Railway's new Dartford Loop Line in 1866. The new transport links to central London led to increasing numbers of middle class professionals moving to the town, in particular from inner London suburbs such as Camberwell and New Cross, which were experiencing social unrest and a rise in slum housing. After the rail line's electrification following the culmination of the First World War, speculative builders bought up cheap farmland around the town and by 1930 its population had risen to just short of 12,000, and would treble within the next two decades.

Sidcup's dramatic population rise led to a strain on local schooling, with many boys having to travel as far away as Dartford and Erith to attend secondary school. This problem was exacerbated by the government's stated intention of raising the school leaving age to cut the number of unemployed in the midst of the Great Depression. For this reason, the Bexley and Sidcup Urban District Councils, and later the Bromley Rural and Chislehurst District Education Committee, requested that the Maidstone-centered Kent County Council finance the creation of a new school in the area. On April 1930, the Council's Secondary and University Education Sub-Committee agreed to open up what they called the Sidcup County School for Boys on the old premises of the County School for Girls, which was then moving from its original site at 27 Station Road to a new, specially constructed site in Beaverwood Road.

27 Station Road: 1931–1935

File:Bird College - The Centre.png
The original site of the Sidcup County School for Boys in Station Road, Sidcup. By 2009, when this photograph was taken, the site was occupied by Bird College, devoted to dance and the performing arts.

The red-brick site at 27 Station Road had been built in 1900 to house the Sidcup High School for Girls and Kindergarten Ltd, although additional office space was added in 1930 to convert it into the boys school. In July, the Secondary Education Sub-Committee began advertising to find a headmaster for the school, and in the following Spring they announced that the position would go to the Welshman Dr. C.R. McGregor Williams (1889–1954), who had formerly been the headmaster of the recently-closed Uckfield Grammar School in Sussex. The son of a Glamorgan tailor, McGregor Williams had been born in Newport and had attended both Newport High School and then Cardiff College, University of Wales, where he gained an honours degree in modern languages. Having fought for the British Army at the Battle of the Somme, in 1916 he returned to Britain to recuperate from his injuries, marrying a woman named Susan James the following year back in his hometown. Gaining a teaching post at what would become Varndean School in Brighton, McGregor Williams spent his spare time studying for an MA with a thesis on Molière's religious philosophy from the University of Wales. In 1926, he went on to obtain a doctorate on the work of the poet John Payne from the University of Paris, before securing a job as headmaster of Uckfield Grammar School.

It would be Williams who chose the school's motto of "Abeunt Studia in Mores", which he had taken from Ovid's Heroides, in which it is proclaimed by the lesbian poet Sappho in her love letter to Phaon. It was also Williams who chose purple as the school's colour, supposedly because it was associated with war wounds and liturgical mourning, something he and his wife considered appropriate following the death toll of the First World War. The position of first Senior Assistant Master went to Mr. A.E. Parsons, B.Sc., who was on a starting salary of £416 per annum. It was agreed that the school would initially take in 62 boys, of whom 52 would be fee-paying, 8 of whom would have free-place scholarships and 2 of which would be "junior exhibitioners". Fee-paying residents of either Kent or London counties were charged £4 a term, while "outsiders" were instead charged £10. Half of the first intake of students lived in Sidcup itself, while the others mostly came from neighbouring districts such as Petts Wood, Chislehurst, Orpington, Foots Cray and New Eltham. The school first opened on Thursday 17 September 1931, with a dedication ceremony later taking place on Friday 25 September.

Template:Quote box During its first year, the school began production of its own magazine, The Chronicle, while the house system was introduced in the spring term of 1932. Initially, there were only four school houses, known as A, B, C and D. In 1937, two more, E and F, were added. It would only be in 1953 that these houses were renamed. On 9 October 1932, the school expelled its first pupil, William Stanley Morton Duck, at the request of the headmaster, who accused him of spitting at passers-by from an open-top bus. Headmaster McGregor Williams was widely known for his scruffy appearance about the school, and reportedly had an extra-marital sexual affair with at least one young female member of staff. He was often stern towards the students, and implemented corporal punishment to punish disobedient pupils, beating them with a sawn-off cricket bat; he was twice prosecuted in court for using excessive force in this manner, but was acquitted on both occasions. A staunch supporter of the right wing Conservative Party, he adored drama and took part in some of the school's early performances, as well as introducing the sport of lacrosse to the school, of which he was a keen fan. In July 1933, the school's first foreign trip went ahead, with McGregor Williams taking pupils to the Rhineland in Germany. At the time under the control of the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, the school would continue taking pupils to the region in future years; in 1937 McGregor Williams and his pupils traveled the country wearing swastika armbands which they had been given by members of the Hitler Youth movement.

Crittall's Corner: 1935–1954

The old building at 27 Station Road had always been intended as a temporary site for the school, with a larger, purpose-built building planned for construction at Crittall's Corner, just south of the town. The first wing of the new building opened on 11 November 1935, and for a while the school remained divided between the two sites, with students often having to travel across Sidcup to get to different lessons. Construction of the building only came to an end in 1938, when the school was moved in its entirety to the new site. The new building, designed by John Poltock – who would later design Cairo's Victoria College – was a modernist construct known for its prominent use of large metal-framed windows that allowed the building to be filled with natural light. Designed to house 660 students, more than were currently enrolled in the school, it was widely acclaimed both in architectural journals and in the popular press. It was also in 1935 that the school introduced purple blazers for uniforms, although the majority of students continued to wear their grey blazers; it would only be in the 1950s that the school's students had gone entirely over to purple. In 1938, the school was renamed Chislehurst and Sidcup County School; this was because the Sidcup Urban District Council had been abolished in 1934, its role being adopted by the newly created Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District Council.

In 1939, Britain entered the Second World War, and a number of the school's teachers were called up to fight in the British Army. Headmaster McGregor Williams meanwhile joined the Home Guard, Briefly serving in the Chislehurst Battalion , he later appears in the Stand Down Photograph of Officers that served in the 54th (Chislehurst Battalion)Kent Home Guard wearing the uniform of an RAF Officer At the school, the students set about digging out trenches to use as bomb shelters and assemblies were cancelled. Students were expected to carry their gas masks around with them in case of chemical attack, and during the ensuing Blitz – in which the German Luftwaffe began bombing London and the areas around it – the school was affected by a nearby landmine on 17 September 1940, destroying the glass of all the windows on one side. On 16 June 1944, the school was once more struck, this time by a V-1 flying bomb which destroyed one end of the Assembly Hall. By the time that the war came to an end in 1945, 280 former pupils and 13 members of staff had fought in the armed forces, with 45 of them having been killed.

In 1944, Conservative politician Rab Butler put forward the Education Act 1944, suggesting a largescale reform of British schools by introducing a "tripartite system" that divided students based on their academic ability and allocating them to one of three schools: the grammar school, secondary technical school and secondary modern school. Deciding how to implement these reforms on a local scale, in 1946, E.V. Mills chaired a meeting of the Divisional Executive in which they suggested radically changing the schooling system in the area. They decided that Chislehurst and Sidcup County School would become a grammar, and would be moved from its site at Critall's Corner to a much larger space at Lamorbey in Sidcup, where it would be situated alongside another newly built technical school, Hurstmere School. Meanwhile, the site at Critall's Corner would be converted into a secondary modern, Kemnal Technology College. The decision was deeply opposed by Headmaster McGregor Williams, who wanted his school to remain within the Critall's Corner building, of which he was particularly fond. Meanwhile, academic achievement at the school remained high in the post-war years, with a large percentage of pupils going on to gain university degrees; of note is that the July 1946 issue of The Chronicle also contained several illustrations by a student named Quentin Blake (1932–), later to become a famous illustrator.

Hurst Road, Sidcup 1954-

A new headmaster, Richard Pedley (1912-1973), led the school into its new building. Under his guidance the school's academic achievements increased considerably, coming second only to Manchester Grammar school in 1964 for Oxbridge and State scholarships. In 1967, Mr Pedley resigned his post due to propositions for turning the school comprehensive, never in fact implemented.

1960s and 1970s

Michael (MJM) Brown, Head of Prescot Grammar School (and sympathetic to the comprehensive plan) succeeded 'Rick' Pedley. Many staff were sceptical of Brown, an acknowledged supporter of the comprehensive system, but Oxbridge successes continued aplenty. 1968 saw Brown instructed to begin planning to merge Chis and Sid with Hurstmere. A change of colour from Red to Blue in the Bexley Council chamber subsequently scuppered this plan leaving Brown somewhat stymied and left to oversee the administration of a hybrid scheme that maintained the continuing status of the school as a grammar school - much to the relief of many of the staff, parents and pupils (present and future). This status prevailed until 1973 when the boot was finally put into the 'Grammar' amid much bitterness, recrimination and resignations.

Thus 1973 saw a sea change in the life of the school. Many members of staff resigned that year, girls were invited in and amid the greater political gloom a corner was turned.

On 4 May 1971, four home-made bombs were found in the woods adjoining the school. The authorities suspected that these belonged to the far left militant group known as Angry Brigade, although they could also be the work of the same students who devised improvised bombs as an experiment on a school trip to Norway in 1970.

In 1973 the compulsory wearing of the school cap was abolished.

1980s and 1990s

In January 1983, the school featured on the front page of all the national tabloids. Excessive drinking at the 1982 Sixth Form Christmas Party resulted in the suspension of almost 200 pupils for one day, including the majority of the sixth form.

File:Sozzlehurst and Hiccup .jpg
The Sun newspaper published this satirical cartoon depicting the events of December 1982 in which they labelled the school "Sozzlehurst and Hiccup". Historian Charles Wells would note that by 2002 it had become "famous - or notorious".

Somebody had contacted a popular British tabloid, The Sun, to inform them of the events, and being a slow news day, they ran the incident on their front page, proclaiming "SCHOOL BANS 157 BOOZING PUPILS". The journalist responsible, Robert Bolton, added fresh elements to the story, claiming that 5 students had had to be taken to hospital as a result of their drinking, while others had smoked marijuana. Soon, other newspapers had also picked up on the story, with journalists offering £5 to students outside the school gates who could provide the most lurid and sensationalist accounts of the events. As a result, The Star went with the headline "SIXTH FORM BANNED AFTER BRANDY ORGY" while The Express decided on "The Day my Sixth Form went Wild". Broadsheet The Daily Telegraph also reported on the story, but only gave it a few paragraphs under the title of "160 Pupils Suspended after Party". Reporters from the BBC local news picked up on it, while the following day, The Sun returned to the story with an editorial cartoon by Franklin in which the school was referred to as "Sozzlehurst and Hiccup".

Since 2000

In 2004, Jim Rouncefield left his post as Headmaster and Dr Joe Vitagliano took over. The school soon gained joint sports college status with the neighbouring Hurstmere School and in 2004 the Jubilee Pavilion was built primarily for sports (it contained changing rooms and a dance studio).

By early 2006 the 'old' school logo was abolished and a new adaptation was introduced. Template:Citation needed

A few years later the Quentin Blake Block was built for £3.5 million for the Art and Design Departments, which contained within it the Curve Gallery, which has since held an annual exhibition of student art, along with various other exhibitions (including a retrospective of the work of local artist Bill Hudson, entitled "Routes").

On 1 October 2008, Mayor of London and former Conservative MP Boris Johnson visited the school to officially open the new sports centre. In 2009, Vitagliano left and Mr Nigel Walker, the former deputy head, took over his position.

On 5 November 2009, a team composed of former students from the class of 2004 named "Sozzlehurst and Hiccup" competed on BBC Two quiz show Eggheads, losing narrowly in the final round.

The school converted to academy status on 1 September 2011.

Notable students and staff

Template:Seealso Template:Unreferenced section

  • Lt Gen Dick Applegate OBE, Quartermaster-General to the Forces
  • Peter Birks, Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford from 1989–2004
  • Quentin Blake, illustrator, attended Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School and opened the Quentin Blake Building, the new Art and Technology block, in 2007.
  • Professor Brian Collins CB, FREng, Professor of Engineering Policy UCL, ex Chief Scientific Adviser, DfT and BIS
  • Air Vice-Marshal Michael P Donaldson MBE, Station Commander of RAF Wattisham from 1987-9, Commandant Royal Observer Corps 1992 - 1993, Commandant RAF Staff College, Bracknell 1993 - 1996 and Principal of Yorkshire Coast College from 1996–2003
  • Paul Durrington FMedSci, Professor of Medicine at the University of Manchester 1995-present
  • Air Vice-Marshal John Ernsting CB OBE.<ref name="Times Obituary - John Ernsting ">Template:Cite news</ref>
  • Karl Glazebrook, astronomer
  • Morris Gleitzman, writer of popular stories for young people, attended the school from 1964 till his family emigrated to Australia in 1969.Template:Citation needed
  • Will Hutton, economics writer and columnist
  • Peter Longworth CMG, High Commissioner to Zimbabwe from 1998–2001
  • Iain Pattinson, comedy scriptwriter, author and broadcaster.
  • Julian Spalding, art critic, curator and broadcaster Template:Citation needed
  • Richard Toop, pianist and Chair of Musicology, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Nigel Williamson, former Times journalist Template:Citation needed







External links

Template:Schools and colleges in Bexley