Written in 1989 to mark the 25th anniversary of the school
It had taken twenty years from the passing of the Education Act in 1944 until Chancellors School admitted its first pupils. It would be another ten years before the school buildings as they now stand were completed.
When the School opened in September 1964 not all the accommodation was available for use. The administration block and main teaching block were ready but the practical block was not finished until November 1964. The School was designed to take 15 forms, i.e. three forms of entry for five years. In line with the accepted practice for a Secondary Modern School at the time, it was not intended to have a sixth form.
The specification for the project required that the classrooms in the main teaching block had a southerly aspect with cross ventilation. Absence of noise from neighbouring classrooms was important. The music room was to be as far away as possible from other school activities. One early problem was identified and rectified when the school was completed and occupied. The Contractor had failed to put in the seals on the frames and, with the first southerly rain shower, water leaked into the classrooms in the main teaching block. Similarly, a north-westerly rainstorm showed the same fault on the north walls of the teaching block - fortunately, some three weeks before the builders maintenance period expired!
Another, more important effect on the school design is outlined in the Report of a site meeting held at the School on 2nd June 1965. Present at the meeting were the Headmaster, Mr. Maynard; the Assistant County Architect, Mr. Davies; a representative from the Architects. Vine and Vine, Mr. Stevens; the Assistant Education Officer, Mr. Trollope; the Advisory Assistant. Mr. Erskine; the Deputy Divisional Education Officer, Mr Day; and a representative of the Education Department Mr. Norman.
The Report records that It is a pity that the main entrance to the school is in a position where it is not used by visitors the school was originally designed to have access from the drive. The access was abandoned due to the expense, but will be provided at a future date, and at that time therefore visitors will not approach the school via the present access.
This refers to the layout of the site and the positioning of the buildings in relation to the two entrances, one in The Drive and one in Golf Club Road. The one in The Drive was intended to be the main entrance for visitors as the first plan clearly shows. The abandoning of this meant that the main entrance was to be from Pine Grove and the School was actually therefore, approached from the back as the Report describes: Approach bed from Pine Grove the first view of the School is the fuel tank, the boiler house and its chimney, and again the bulk of the gymnasium.
It was felt that the planting of shrubs would soon hide the fuel tank and the appearance would be reasonable. This item was to be discussed by the Governors who would pursue the matter if they wished access to the school to be from The Drive. Access today is still via Pine Grove.
At the same site meeting early problems with the width of the turning circle were identified. The good turning facilities in the original design had had to be reduced to enable building contracts to proceed to a sum within the Department of Education and Sciences cost limits, as outlined in the last chapter, the turning circle was also the unloading bay for the School kitchen and, consequently, there was not enough room for coaches to turn. This fault would have to wait several years before it was, finally satisfactorily rectified.
The extra number of school places available with the opening of Chancellors would only have a temporary effect on relieving the demand for more secondary places in the area. At the Countys Education Committees meeting in January 1964 it was reported that Cuffley children at present attend Secondary schools in Cheshunt. The expansion of Cheshunt is such, however, that it will be increasingly difficult for children outside the area to attend schools in that town. It is expected that the new Chancellors Secondary School at Brookmans Park, which is due to open next September, will be full by September, 1966. This school will serve a fairly wide area adjacent to Cuffley and if a new school is available in Cuffley it will contribute to the solution of accommodation problems in an extensive area of Mid Hertfordshire.
A three-form-entry secondary school for Cuffley was, therefore, included in the 1966-67 Major Building Programme. The Education Committee was informed in October 1965 that the Department of Education and Science had approved a three-form entry school for 450 pupils in Cuffley. The cost of the first instalment would be £215,724. Work on a sketch plan of the school was virtually complete and working drawings were to be prepared in view of the growth of the area with the consequent urgent need for this school.
Before this project progressed much further major changes in the way that secondary education was structured and organised in Mid Herts began to be discussed. Secondary selection by written test had ceased in Mid Herts from September 1964. It was the view of the Mid Herts Divisional Executive Secondary Sub-Committee, as recorded in the Minutes for 27th November 1963 that the present procedure placed an undue influence on the work of some primary schools and on individual children. With the introduction of the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) in 1965 and evidence that some secondary modern schools were already offering General Certificate of Education (GCE) courses, it was no longer a life and death matter to get into grammar school as twelve years ago. The Committee recommended that secondary selection in 1964 should be operated on the basis of the opinions of the schools concerned, and detailed investigation of individual cases.
This view of examination courses in secondary modern schools was in marked contrast to earlier views expressed by the Mid Herts Divisional Executive. In March 1948 its Secondary Sub-Committee, in response to a request that children be allowed to take GCE, stated that although it realised there was a certain demand from parents for some form of certificate, the general feeling was against examinations since it would destroy the individual and local aptitudes of the secondary modern schools.
Again, in February 1956, it repeated that the GCE was not felt a suitable exam for a Secondary Modern School since only one or two children a year would profit by study. They could go to a College of Further Education. When Chancellors opened, a more flexible attitude prevailed and the School found, as others had, that its pupils, even from the very first intake in 1964, were quite capable of taking the GCE examinations at both 0 and A level.
Such experiences brought into question the whole basis of secondary selection and the organisation of secondary education in Mid Herts. The Divisional Executive set up an ad hoc Committee to look at all the implications of ceasing secondary selection altogether. The ad hoc Committee first met in November 1964 and had eight meetings. It invited views from all the schools in the area and teacher representatives. Cuffley was excluded from the figures discussed by the Committee as it is felt that its future will lie with Cheshunt and the East Hens arrangements.
The response to the consultation of Chancellors School was That the Governing Body is unanimously in favour of the all-through 11-18 comprehensive school for 810 pupils but considers that the following essentials should be provided prior to implementation. These included accommodation for the extra children, adequate staffing and also living accommodation for the staff and adequate transport facilities to bring pupils to the school.
The ad hoc Committee eventually recommended that no other scheme is as desirable as the all-through, all-ability 11-18 school. It further recorded (a) its reservations about the possibility of providing courses of satisfactory flexibility, variety and size in the four form entry, all-ability schools with an age range of 11-18 and (b) its strong feeling that a 6 form entry school would be preferable.
This view was also predominant at County Hall, where officers were busy planning their response to a Department of Education and Science Circular (10/65), which concerned the reorganisation of secondary education on comprehensive lines. This had been instigated by the Labour Government elected in 1964. Discussions about the number of forms of entry were the only point of departure from the ad hoc Committee and centred on the specification for Sheredes Secondary School in Hoddesdon. This was the first school to be built to the Countys new standard brief for the all-through schools. Sheredes was initially proposed as a four to five form entry school but it was now recommended that the new standard brief should be based on a 5 Form Entry School. This will produce a school of 750 pupils below the VIth Form and a VIth Form of 85. It was further recommended that the new standard brief for a 5 Form Entry School should be applied to existing Secondary Schools where it is capable of application to bring them up to 5 Form Entry Schools and their building up to the standards in the new brief (Report of the Clerk of the County Council to Mid Hens Divisional Executive 28th April 1966).
Obviously these developments in educational organisation had an effect on both the existing Chancellors School and on the proposed Cuffley Secondary School, which was to be on a site in Jones Road, Goffs Oak. Detailed proposals on the implications of the above policy were presented to the Countys Education Secondary Sub-Committee in May 1966. As far as Cuffley was concerned, the proposed secondary school was thought to have been on a limited scale. There would have been no sixth form accommodation and the laboratory provision would have been inadequate. There would be advantages, therefore, for Cuffley children if they attended either Cheshunt Secondary or Goffs Grammar schools. The proposed Cuffley Secondary School was thereby abandoned.
Chancellors fared better. The Sub-Committee were informed that the Brookmans Park area was growing and more accommodation must be provided. It was suggested that some of the money allocated to the proposed school in Goffs Oak be used for enlarging Chancellors School, but this will not be enough to bring it fully up to standard and further accommodation should be programmed as soon as possible.
Before outlining details of this accommodation mention must be made of a concurrent piece of national legislation which would have a significant effect on the future of Chancellors. This was the London Government Act 1963. Details were discussed at the Mid Herts Divisional Executives meeting in July 1964. When the Act came into force on 1st April 1965 the urban districts of Barnet and East Barnet would be incorporated into the London Borough of Barnet. Together with Elstree District Council those districts until that date were administered by the South Herts Educational Division. After 1st April 1965 that Division would cease to exist. Similarly Potters Bar Urban District would come under control of Hertfordshire County Council when Middlesex County Council merged with London County Council to form the Greater London Council. Now both Elstree and Potters Bar would have local education offices under the administrative control of the Mid Herts Divisional Executive.
The next significant development that concerned Chancellors was recorded in Mid Herts Divisional Executive Secondary subcommittees Minutes of 23rd November 1966. Numbers in the Brookmans Park area are growing and major extensions to the school will be required in an early programme. In the meantime it is proposed to meet the immediate needs of the school by providing a new library block which will also release the present library area for general teaching space. The project has been planned as the first instalment of a major development plan, which will eventually bring the school to five form entry size.
The estimated cost of this accommodation was £20,033. Ministry approval was received on 10th August 1966. Unlike the earlier building, which was one of the last Hertfordshire schools to be built using an 83 planning grid, the new library block was to use the SEAC Mark II system. The area of the new accommodation was 3,316 square feet. The architect was J.A. Wakely. The contractor, Headway Construction, was requested to complete the work by December1967. In fact it was completed ahead of schedule.
Pressure for more secondary school places continued with the raising of the school leaving age to sixteen for children entering secondary education in September 1967. At its meeting in May 1967, the Countys Education Secondary Sub-Committee was notified that the Department of Education and Science had approved extensions to Chancellors to be included in the 1968-69 Secondary Major Building Programme. An extra 235 school places would be provided at an estimated cost of £120,642.
The accommodation was described as a general teaching and science block and was to use a SEAC Mark II Phase II light steel frame. The area of the new block was 17,900 square feet. The architect was R. W. Sears, the contractor F. Hitch and Co. Ltd. Work was to commence in August 1969, which also included adaptations to existing accommodation. Final Ministry approval was received from the Ministry in January 1968. An additional £7,000 was allowed towards improvements to the entry road and provision of a coach turning area. This latter required the purchase of two plots of land totalling 2.64 acres by Compulsory Purchase Order in 1971 from Miss George and the Executors of Mr White (who still own Georges Wood - the land between the school playing field and Pine Grove). The work was finished on the new block by March 1971 and the adaptations by July 1971.
A letter was sent to children involved in Secondary Transfer informing them that from September 1971 Chancellors school was able to admit five forms of entry of all-ability children. This marked a new era in Secondary Education in the area. Schools in Hertfordshire were no longer to cater only for their immediate vicinity. With the advent of larger schools it was inevitable that greater numbers of children would need to travel to their Secondary School, even to their nearest one. Responsibility for the senior Cuffley children came under the Mid Herts Divisional office and Cuffley children came in greater numbers to Chancellors. Similarly, with the County Councils policy of allowing parental choice at Secondary Transfer, more and more children from the nearby towns of Hatfield and Potters Bar were attracted to the School. This has continued to the present day.
A further attempt was made to add a Youth Wing to the Schools premises by including it in the 1969/70 Youth Service Building Programme. This was turned down by the Department of Education and Science. The North Mymms Youth and Community Centre eventually opened in 1975 on a site in Station Road, Welham Green, after a massive fund-raising effort by local people to raise 25% of the building costs.
The final phase of the School was included in the 1972-73 R.S.L.A. (Raising of the School Leaving Age) Programme. Facilities required in order to bring the School up to five-form-entry requirements included rooms for mathematics, English, drama, needlework, music, additional dining facilities and a second P.E. space. The present project would include all of these apart from the needlework and music moms and the second P.E. space and would adjoin the current VIth form block. The estimated cost of the building work was £75,000 although the Countys Schools Sub-Committee approved a figure off 95,382 in December 1972 to include furniture and new kitchen equipment. to enable it to provide 550 meals a day.
The architect was Twist and Whitley and the contractor was T and B (St. Albans). Work was to start in March 1973 for completion in May 1974.
This block used the SEAC Mark Ill building type. SEAC Mark Ill used metric measurements whilst the earlier Mark II specifications were imperial and produced overall building sizes in multiples of 2O, and room sizes in increments of 4. By 1965 SEAC had reduced the cost per square foot of building from 7s. 8d. (38.5p) for Hertfordshires 83 grid to 4s. 11d. (24.5p) for the Mark II, thus achieving considerable savings on building costs for the consortium.
At this time it was still the Countys intention to add further accommodation to the School in line with its standard brief for a 750 place secondary school with eighty-five VIth form places. This included a second PE space, music department and youth wing. A letter from the Department of Education and Science to the County Architect on 20th February 1973 pointed out, however, that the minimum teaching area for a 750 place plus eighty-five VIth form school was 3,535 square metres. The teaching area at Chancellors with the completion of the latest block was 4,045 square metres. The letter concluded that the school already exceeded the currently recommended minimum teaching area. This may have been one factor to explain why the extra accommodation was never provided.
With the completion of the last teaching block in May 1974 the School building provision reached the stage that it is at today. A school is a living entity which continually changes and adapts. In its relatively short life Chancellors has expanded as well as surviving two threats of closure (in 1979 and 1981) and a proposed amalgamation (in 1986) brought about by the nationwide fall in the number of secondary school age children. In its 25th Anniversary Year the School is thriving, with one of the largest number of pupils in its history. In these circumstances the provision of further buildings cannot be ruled out.
This history is just one chapter in the story of Chancellors School which started with the passing of the 1944 Education Act. It is as much a testament to the men and women in the Local Education Authority who were determined to respond to it and to subsequent Education Acts, and give the children of Hertfordshire good schools.
Note: The original book, written by Lilian Caras, had a number of other sections covering the teaching staff, first pupils and lists of head girls and boys, chairmen of governors, governors and chairmen of the PTA, but these parts of the book are not reproduced here.