North Mymms Schools & their Children
1700 - 1964
by Peter Kingsford
During these years the greatest changes in the life of the parochial schools took place. The future of both schools, until then in the balance, was decided. But first, the war had to be won before anything else. Even before it started, during the Munich crisis, 153 children from London were billeted in the parish, though they soon returned. The parish council resolved that "We in North Mymms Parish do not think tat this Parish is a fit place to bring children into". This opinion had no effect, for children came again in the real crisis of war, from two London schools, Highgate Mixed and Infants council school and a Roman Catholic school in Chelsea.
Fit place or not, the parish did its duty by the evacuated children. When the air raid trenches had been dug and the school windows blacked out, the buildings were ready for the evacuees. Their head teachers publicly thanked the school managers, teachers, billeting officers and foster parents of North Mymms for their kindness and generosity in the upheaval.
The school children, both local and evacuees, became part timers, the local children occupying the schools in the afternoons, while the evacuees had the mornings, with an overflow in the scout hut in Dixons Hill Road. No less a person than John Newsom, county education officer found time to visit the parish and confirmed the arrangement. It was improved after a few months. The Highgate children went to Moffats, Brookmans Park; the preparatory school there had been evacuated to a place of greater safety. The Roman Catholic girls attending Water End took their lessons in the scout hut. The middle classroom at Water End was still, however, occupied by the Highgate infants.
This loss of schooling was the main educational casualty of the war. There was one echo of the past. Shortage of labour for potato lifting in 1941 brought one large farmer, who was also a school manager, to complain that "The present method of getting schoolboy labour is very involved". His fellow managers saw the point and agreed that the head teachers should make lists of children over twelve to be released from school. A second farmer informed them how well the boys had worked on his land. The girls were not left out, fourteen of them had permission from County Hall to do the same work. No doubt everyone was pleased, except the teachers.
Another casualty of wartime was the shortage of staff and the absence of any new building. When overcrowded classes occurred at the boys’ school in 1943 because of an influx of infants of both sexes, the only solution offered by the county council was to increase the class size to forty-eight by installing additional furniture. That commodity, at least, was available. But there were only two applications for assistant teacher at the girls’ school in that year.
Damage of a different kind happened to the girls’ school towards the end of the war. A fly bomb blasted it so that the roof, ceilings and windows needed extensive repairs, which were carried out by the county council, without cost to the managers. Another danger occurred, though from friendly troops. The school had to be closed repeatedly because a sewage overflow from the American hospital in North Mymms Park came up through the drains into the playground.
All the effects of war were not negative. Children were better fed. The very young ones also had some education for the first time. A "War Time Nursery School" for children of two to five years whose mothers were in war work (including domestic service) started in Welham Green in 1942. For one shilling per day the infants could be given breakfast, lunch and tea, and be cared for by a "fully qualified matron and staff’. There was room for thirty infants but at the opening only eight appeared, and the parish council thought it its duty to inform county hail that the whole thing was too expensive, though it did not incur a penny of expense itself.
Meanwhile, the private sector in education, reduced by the evacuation of Moffats school, was reinforced by a school at 39 The Grove, Brookmans Park. At Ithaca House school about thirty children of all ages between four and ten years received instruction in the sitting room of number 39, in the space left by the fireplace, shelves, pianola and the teacher’s table. Overcrowding was not peculiar to the Welham Green school. Boys and girls were prepared, often successfully, for grammar school in a whole range of subjects: arithmetic, English, history, geography, nature, scripture, music, as well as in the arts of painting, poetry, handwork and drama. The school did not close until July 1949; most of the thirty-three children transferred to Little Heath county primary school.
Another wartime blessing was school dinners, though for the pupils at Water End it was, for a time, a mixed one. At first they had to walk to Welham Green for their dinners and, not surprisingly, few wanted to. It was only when dinners came from the Dellsome Parade canteen and when, marvellous to relate, the county council built a kitchen at the school, that every girl except two had dinner at school.
In fact, although there was a cloud over the future of the girls’ school, resources continued to be given it. Gas was laid on to replace the paraffin lamps, which gave a poor light, and paraffin had become scarce. Half the costs of a new sewer and repairs to the school building and the house were met by the managers. When Miss Simon, headmistress for twenty-three years, retired in 1943, Miss E Smith from Bognor was appointed from twenty-five applicants for the post. Miss Simon had, the vicar wrote, "faithfully maintained the religious basis of teaching and the highest moral training."
Soon after these events, the Government, responding to the enthusiasm for education generated by the war, published in 1943, when victory was still far off, the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction. Heading the introduction was an earlier saying: Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. The White Paper foreshadowed the Butler Education Act of the following year. The vicar, the Rev L Buxton, responded warmly to the White Paper as soon as it appeared, quoting it verbatim: -
"Amongst all the proposals which are being put forward for the rebuilding of our national life, those which concern education are among the most important. The majority of our children have hitherto ceased their education at the age of 14 and have been thrown into the world with insufficient training to enable them to meet the claims of their homes, their country and their own wellbeing. The future of the country depends upon the children being fully equipped as decent, responsible and happy citizens. It is therefore, a matter of great importance that the Government has now issued their proposals "to ensure a fuller measure of education and opportunity for young people, to provide means for developing the various talents with which they are endowed, add so enriching the inheritance of the country whose citizens they are."
It is impossible to summarise these proposals here, but it is an opportunity to consider how they may affect our own schools. No doubt it will be more than ever necessary for us to carry out the alterations and enlargement of our Boys’ School which have for long been demanded by the Education authorities. The Government now offers to provide half the cost of such alterations. This offer seems too good to be missed. It is fortunate that we had already begun to raise a find for the purpose, and although some of it has already been spent, we still have over £450 in hand. I hope that we shall do our best to increase this fund, in order that when the war is over we may be able to provide a school which will be worthy of the great part which our children will be called upon to play in the future of our country.
The Butler Act provided that church schools could choose between ‘Aided’ arid ‘Controlled’ status. Aided schools were treated generously. They were to receive grants to cover teachers’ salaries, towards the cost of alterations to buildings and towards internal and external repairs, while the managers were still to appoint teachers. A controlled school, on the other hand, although it could also continue denominational instruction, passed completely under the financial control of the local educational authority, which also nominated a majority of the managers.
From then on, the managers had decisions to make. In July 1944, while battle raged in Normandy, they discussed whether the girls’ school should be maintained as an aided school. The principle of ensuring Anglican teaching held sway and they decided that all efforts should be made "to bring the school up to date to satisfy the requirements of the local education authority", in spite of the shortage of funds. But it was not to be. Unknown perhaps to them, the county council included the Water End C E (G & I) school on a list of voluntary schools in unsatisfactory premises and which were not likely to meet the standards laid down under the Act. These were sufficiently stringent: -
"Every primary school should have decent lighting, ventilation, cloakrooms and offices; a reasonable place of assembly should be available, together with an adequate area of hard playground for physical training. There should be at least one room available for the staff and a separate classroom for each class in the school based on class units of not more than 35."
Only too soon, in November 1944, diocesan, county hall and Ministry officers visited the girls’ school and made known their decision that "There must be no question that this school should be closed and the children transferred to the other school at Welham Green". The managers registered surprise and indignation. They had expended £215 recently on the school, the schoolhouse and the sewer, the county council had built a kitchen there, the new head had improved the education, the roll had risen to fifty-eight. All possible efforts had been made to improve the school, which was now more satisfactory than at any other time. Moreover, they shrewdly pointed out, the additional accommodation required at the boys’ school could not be built for a long time in view of the national shortages of materials and labour. They would request a meeting with the diocesan director of religious education.
All this was of no avail, for the diocesan board and county hall confirmed that the school could not be satisfactorily reconstructed. It had already been decided at county hall that there would be in due course a secondary school "at or near Bell Bar", and it would be the Welham Green school which would send their eleven year old children there.
Thus at the end of the war the facts about the girls’ school had to be faced. Neither the managers nor the headmistress could know that the school still had another fifteen years to go, albeit under different management. The headmistress was, naturally, sufficiently concerned to make the novel suggestion that she should attend the managers’ meetings. There was strong objection to this at first, though it was later accepted as a sign of the times. Her request for electricity at the school could not be met but it was supplied to her house. There was then a curious complaint by one of the managers that, according to village report, the girls were singing hymns during most of their time in school. Perhaps such activity could be regarded as an appeal for divine intervention in the future of the school. In any case the managers rebutted the charge. It seems wisely, for the girls, along with the boys, received high praise for religious instruction from the diocesan inspector.
It was otherwise with the girls’ physical education. The facilities were reported to the county council to be very poor, both inside and outside with all infants and juniors under two teachers. There is no playing field nearby and dancing is practised in a small classroom, which is cleared for each session. The playground is unsurfaced and inadequate", and as an addendum - "There is no electricity in the school."
Nor was the sustenance for physical education, the school meals, in much better shape. Of the forty girls and four infant boys, between five and fourteen years, only three-quarters took the dinners, perhaps because they had to be brought from the Hertingfordbury Cooking Depot. The old difficulty in appointing an assistant mistress, the lack of accommodation, did not help.
At the boys’ school there were also problems to be solved but also a faith in its future. The county council had already approved it, in 1945, as one which could be re-modelled to meet the specification of a 4 class school as follows: -
Site one and a half acres, playing field 1 acre, 4 classrooms of 520 square feet each, assembly hall 1.800 square feet, cloakroom with 14 wash-basins and drying facilities, staff room, adequate lavatories and kitchen
The next few years were busy and anxious ones for all concerned with the schools. The managers, committed to a large extension at the boys’ school, had to raise a large sum of money. Their task was greatly lightened by gifts of land for the school from Lt Col W A G Burns of North Mymms Park and from David and Edward Nash, members of one of the oldest families in the village, the last of whom became a manager. The extension fund grew from village activities, notably from the North Mymms Dramatic Society performances. The vicar explained the situation in August 1948: -
"As many of you are await the last Education Act is making a great deal of difference to the Church of England Schools throughout the country; and our own diocese throughout this year is making a special effort to save as many of the Church Schools as possible by bringing them up to the standard required by the Board of Education, and a major portion of the money raised by the Bishop’s Appeal will for this year be directed to this end. Here at North Mymms we have our own problems, and the School Managers, the Diocesan authorities, and the Local Education Authority have briefly agreed to close the Water End School at some future date, and transfer the children to Welham Green, which will have to be very considerably enlarged, and brought up to the required standard. Application is being made through the appropriate channels that the school may achieve "aided status" and thus ensure that one school in the parish may in future be a Church school This cannot of course be done without money, and that which the managers have in hand will need to he considerably increased
Already the interior of the school has been painted and during the summer holidays it is Intended that the school shall be re-floored Subscriptions for our own schools will be gladly received by the clerk, to the managers Mr H Laurence, at Twysdens, Dixon’s Hill Road; or if subscribers prefer to give to the wider diocesan scheme - which of course will assist us if in need, then these should be contributed through the Bishops Appeal Fund to our Bishop’s Courier, Mr R Colville of Hill Holme, Dixon’s Hill Road
It may not be generally known that three boys and two girls have this year been awarded places in Grammar School and two boys have qualified for places in Technical Schools. This reflects great credit not only on the children themselves, but on the schools which have trained them and sincere congratulations are due to all concerned. Approximately, the Welham Green School caters for one hundred children and Water End forty. Too often our local schools are just taken for granted, and it is a good thing that front time to time a little lime-light should be focussed upon them, and their present and future needs should be made known."
As it turned out considerable financial help had to come from diocesan funds.
Plans were prepared and approved by county hall. The school received Aided Status from the Ministry. The extension was to be in two stages, the first consisting of one classroom and a lavatory block. It was eventually opened in 1953.
Growth of Brookmans Park
Meanwhile there was competition from Brookmans Park. The rapid development of that new commuter village before the war had produced many more children who either attended private schools or travelled to the council school at Little Heath or the church schools in North Mymms. Soon after a parish councillor had, in 1946, pointed out how inadequate the provision was, the county council agreed to a junior and infants school at Brookmans Park, and the first instalment was started three years later. This development gave rise to some anxiety among the North Mymms managers. They requested an assurance from the county council that the Brookmans Park school would not have priority over "our extension".
The children also were affected by reorganisation. Early on, those over fourteen were to go to St Audrey’s school, Hatfield. The school leaving age had been raised to fifteen in 1947. Some families wanted their children to stay at school beyond that age but could not afford it. The parish council, aware of this, asked the trustees of the parish charities if the money for apprenticing that had accumulated could be used to the benefit of such children for expenses on books and clothing. Nothing came of it because the accumulation had been spent on needy widows, but the proposal was several years ahead of an official recommendation for better maintenance allowances.
In 1948 there was a party at the boys’ school for all those over eleven who were going to other schools at the end of the term. That year the vicar announced that all the eleven plus children would be going to Howe Dell secondary modern school, Hatfield. Chancellors School was still a gleam in the eye of the county education officer. The vicar accepted the change but regretted that he would no longer be teaching the top classes.
The boys’ school, now called the North Mymms Church of England Mixed and Infants School, suffered the severest blow when the headmaster died suddenly in 1949, aged only fifty-one. Alfred John Bradbeer had been leader of the boys’club, captain of the cricket club, choirman, and had served on the parochial church council and in the Home Guard. Greatly missed by the community, his ‘passing must have been deeply regretted by pupils and ex pupils alike. His discipline had relied on the cane far less than his predecessor’s had.
The over riding fact of the l950s was that the population of the parish more than doubled, from 5526 to 12522, caused partly by house building, partly by the post war birth rate. More children put pressure on the schools. The managers felt it. "With the rise in the child population in the parish", wrote the vicar, "both our schools are outgrowing their capacity. It all goes to show how urgent is our work for school reconstruction and how greatly I and my fellow managers hope we shall have no further frustration and disappointments forced upon us by the difficulties of the times." It was to be a pious but vain hope.
One, perhaps unforeseen, effect was that the life of the girls’ school was extended. "For some years yet", the county council education committee stated "while numbers are at their peak, the girls’ school will have to continue but when the numbers in the area fall, it can be abandoned." in fact, the number there rose to its peak of seventy five in 1952 and an extra teacher had to be appointed temporarily. The reason was the Hockey Lane Estate Huts left by the war time American Military hospital in North Mymms Park had become temporary housing. The children went to Water End school. The old tradition of awarding prizes for one hundred per cent attendance continued. Another tradition, the blue serge lengths distributed under Caroline Casamajor’s will, had gone in the 1940s. By now the managers had accepted the fact that the school was bound to change its status from "aided" to "controlled",
As there was some confusion in the parish the vicar clarified the situation
"In order that any possible misapprehension may be allayed, I wish to make the position as clear as I am able: In order to pay for the reconstruction of the Boys’ School at Welham Green, a large sum of money has been borrowed from the Diocesan Board of Finance, and the building of the Girls’ School at Water End has been pledged as security. This money must be paid in approximately two years, and this can only happen if the Water End school building is sold. The local education authority has decided to purchase it and after purchase to establish there a County Primary School. Therefore until such purchase is completed. - in about two years’ time - both Welham Green and Water End remain church schools, Welham Green for Boys and Infants, and Water End for Girls and Infants After the purchase there will thus be both a church school and a state school and parents can send their children to which they prefer, provided there is adequate accommodation in the school of their choice. It seems likely - though this is not finally settled - that at the expiry of the two years, both schools will take boys, girls and infants, but remain as they are - namely, boys at Welham Green, girls at Water End and infants at both."
The school house was sold for £800 in 1953, and in the following year, the girls' school became a county primary school. Thus ended the mangers' hundred year old responsibility. The link with the church was not completely broken as the vicar made known: -
"The statutory two years notice given by the mangers of the Girls' school to the Local Education Authority has elapsed, and the situation at Water End is now that the school has become a County Primary School housed in a building belonging to the Church, and negotiations for the sale of the property to the L.E.A., are now taking place. Though Water End has thus now ceased to be a Church School in principle, it is unlikely in practice that its relationship to the Church will be greatly altered during the time that the present Vicar and the present Headmaster hold their respective offices. This change of status will however have its repercussions upon the Boys' and Infants School at Welham Green, which now becomes the only Church School in the parish. At their meeting last night, the managers decided that in the altered circumstances, it is now desirable to turn the Welham Green School into a Mixed School in order that girls may continue to be educated there after they have reached the age of seven. The managers feel that this suggestion will have the backing of the Headmaster and of many parents in Welham Green, and this resolution has been forwarded to the Local Education Authority for their comments, and until these are received, no decision can be made; but the managers hope that it may be possible to make this change of policy effective within a short time."
The headmistress referred to was, and had been for five years, Mrs Dorothy Colville formerly, as Dorothy Field, pupil teacher at the school. The vicar continued his regular visits.
After the first stage of the extension at the boys' school had been opened, negotiations for the second stage began in 1955, for already the entrance hall had to be used as a classroom for infants, while the older girls were still going to Water End to make room for them. The cost to the managers' fund kept them busy in protracted financial calculations. The county council was informed of the situation at the beginning of 1956: -
"The Managers of the Aided school have undertaken to reconstruct their school to provide for the junior pupils (a four-class school) leaving the County Council to provide for the infants (a three-class school). The Managers have already carried out major improvements to the school. In 1951, they provided a first instalment consisting of one new classroom and lavatories; at the moment, a second stage of the improvement consisting of two classrooms is being erected. One of these classrooms is being paid for by the LEA to replace a smaller room, which is being turned into a kitchen. This school at Welham Green has 130 children on the roll, rising in the summer term to 150, and with new developments going on in the area (172 houses are in the course of erection) will be unable to deal with the additional pupils. A three-class infants school is proposed to allow the Managers of the Aided school to take junior pupils only when it is completed."
The worst problems were still to come. In September that year, the children were occupying the two classrooms recently completed in the Welham Green School but more still arrived. By 1958, the number there had rocketed up to 211.
Two classes had to be held in the Memorial Hall; the proposed new county school for the infants at Bushwood, Dellsome Lane, was not yet on the ground. Yet the roll at the council school at Water End had fallen to thirty-nine. Something seemed to have gone wrong with the forecasts.
Teaching under difficulties continued at Welham Green. Fortunately, there was now a school library of about four hundred books. The managers were able to congratulate the head master on "the attainment of seven successes in the 11-plus examination". Her Majesty’s Inspector visited and expressed his satisfaction, though pointing out that in a school of such size the headmaster should not have a class of his own to teach. The parent teacher association was active and began to consider, optimistically in the existing conditions, a swimming pool, stimulated perhaps by the initiative at Brookmans Park where the primary school had opened in 1951. The PTA also wanted to know about opportunities in further education and was enlightened by the principal of Mid Herts College of Further Education.
But staffing problems remained. There was a continual struggle to get additional teachers; one applicant for part time work was immediately offered a full time post. The Rural District Council could not help with the old difficulty of accommodation, in view of its waiting list for houses.
The situation was not acceptable and it was clear that yet another addition to the building was needed. The managers debated, in 1960, "whether to keep up with The developing district", or not. The diocesan authorities had already advised them to go no further than a 4-class school for 160 children, leaving the local education authority responsible for any excess. They bravely decided, however, to build two more classrooms and extend the assembly hall. They hoped that before long the new Bushwood School would take their infants and the classes in the Memorial Hall would return to their proper place. Their decision to "keep up with the district" involved them again in prolonged and complex financial negotiations with the diocesan board, county hail and the parochial church council. They found that they would be able to bear their share of the cost and the future burden of servicing a loan.
This third and last addition to the old school building of 1887 was handed over in 1963. By then Bushwood school, along the lane, had taken in the infants and the church school no longer needed the Memorial Hall. But the staff situation remained critical; three part time teachers were employed. Even with the last extension there was overcrowding. When there were 205 pupils in five classes, and the hall was still used as a classroom, county hall was asked about the possibility of a mobile classroom. The number was expected to rise, and did so to 220 at the end of 1964.
The closure of Welham Green School
This time, however, the managers had had enough. There was to be no more extension. The increased population of Welham Green, the lack of additional space, the shortage of teachers, the fact that all previous extensions had been outstripped, the managers’ own limited funds, all made any further effort impossible. They felt that "they had done their stint". The diocesan authorities agreed; any further provision was now the responsibility of county hall alone. The county council’s best suggestion for the time being, not perhaps a welcome one was that the children living in Warrengate Road and Water End should be diverted from Welham Green to Brookmans Park primary school.
Those children could no longer go to what had been their local school at Water End. That school had finally been "abandoned" by the county council in December 1960. The Hockey Lane Estate had been closed. Most of the children now came from Welham Green and there were the hazards of crossing the Barnet by-pass before the installation of traffic lights. In the September the number on roll had fallen to twenty-seven. On 16 December Mrs Dorothy Colville wrote in the school logbook: -
"The last day the school will be open. In the New Year the infants will be transferred to the new school in Dellsome Lane and the juniors will attend either the Boys’ School or Little Heath school. The teaching and domestic staff have been offered and accepted posts in the new school but I, pupil and then pupil teacher in this school resign my position as headmistress."
A few years earlier an inspector had written, "It is a worthwhile experience to spend a day in this lively country school." Thus ended the school’s 113 years of history.
At the Welham Green church school overcrowding continued in spite of the diversion of children. The roll rose to 223 in 1965, putting great strain on the staff. The managers stood firm, no more extensions. They decided that the roll would be limited to 200 by reducing the intake from Bushwood Infants School and diverting the surplus away to the new county school in Brookmans Park. Ten infants did so depart from the fold, but a few years later the church school could take all the infants and such desertion was no longer required. The future lay with the amalgamation of this Church of England Mixed School, on the retirement of its headmaster, Jack Merritt, with the County Infants School at Bushwood as the North Mymms St Mary’s Church of England Junior and Mixed School. That was not to occur until 1980 when Mrs N Palmer became headmistress of the new combined school.
The school managers and the staff at Welham Green had fulfilled their task. They had met the challenge of a changing local society as best they could. There was left the burden of loan repayment, but a shrewd move to switch the. original Casamajor investment from gilts to first class equities provided almost the sum required. The flagpole at the school had rotted away; perhaps it was the original one, thirty eight feet long, which had rejoiced the heart of Benjamin Mallett sixty years before, for it had been repaired, and by county hail, The managers agreed to spend the sum of £6 on a new one. The flag could still fly at the school in its ancient and modem buildings. The tradition of piety in education since 1710 had been maintained at Welham Green.
Brookmans Park School
Piety was also present at Brookmans Park School, even though required by Act of Parliament in the form of a collective act of worship each day and religious instruction. The county primary school, though approved by the county council in 1947, had been delayed for several years by the Ministry of Education because of shortage of labour and materials. A local survey estimated that 150 children would attend. The county case for a school was that "some 50 - 60 children attend small and unsatisfactory schools in Brookmans Park, others whose parents cannot afford fees, travel to Little Heath and North Mymms." As well as Ithaca House school there was Miss Colman’s school. This little school of eighteen pupils, in a room over a shop in Bradmore Green, existed only at the request of parents who did not wish their children to walk long distances to school, and it would close as soon as a county council school appeared. The county education officer made a’ strong protest to the Ministry -
"The appalling conditions in which children are being taught at the moment - a state of affairs which only a Dickens could adequately describe - not only in the County Council schools at Little Wymondly and the CE School at Stevenage, but also in an area like Brookmans Park where no maintained school is available and ‘front parlour’ Dame schools have to be resorted to by parents who as ratepayers and taxpayers have been clamouring for a County Council school for many years."
Eventually the Minister did agree to include Brookmans Park Junior and Infants School in the 1950 building programme.
In the meantime land had had to be found. The site originally purchased, seven and a quarter acres north of Georges Wood Road and adjoining The Drive and the golf course, was now too far away from the centre. The authority, therefore, bought the present site, "lying to the west of Bradmore Way and to the east of the proposed extension of Peplins Way", with an access strip between numbers 35 and 41 Bradmore Way. Part of this three and a half acres belonged to Dearmans, the builders, part to John White, one of the developers of Brookmans Park. This second part required a compulsory purchase order.
Once started, construction, of the new prefabricated type, was rapid and the first intake took place in autumn 1951. The school took in 110 children, considerably fewer than the earlier estimate. The first headmaster, Arthur Wilfred Harris and his staff of four seemed to be on a good wicket, a brand new school with four modern classrooms, in a flourishing commuter village, but it soon became a sticky one. Overcrowding began in the second year when a class had to be held in the staff room. Classes in the entrance hall and assembly hall marked 1954, with a roll of 233. One new classroom in that year was no solution and two more were built in 1956. Overcrowding continued with the roll rising to 350 and classes being held in the corridors, and it was again met in 1962 with two more classrooms. One further classroom brought to an end the struggle which had started with a protest from a parish councillor in 1946.
Elementary education had been re-named primary as the Hadow Report had proposed in the 1930s, and secondary education was now for all children, not only for a selected few. But there were to be three different kinds of secondary school and the lasting influence of Hadow produced them: grammer, technical and modern. These were supposed to reflect three different kinds of ability in children. Since there were enough of the first two schools in the district, the secondary school in the parish was to be a modem school. It would be for those children who did not gain entry to the grammar and technical schools. Selection remained, albeit different in intention.
As early as January 1945 the managers of the parochial schools minuted that they had "no objection to a Secondary School at or near Bell Bar." It was to be nearly twenty years before Chancellors School would open. The site was the same as that which had been rejected as unsuitable for the primary school, only larger. The county council had to negotiate for the land with three owners. It had already purchased six acres, part of the site including the playing fields.
The problem was the intention of the chief landowner, John White, to build on the remaining ten acres required, and the planning authority’s equally firm intention to prevent it. The proposed development included four roads; the start of three of them may still be seen. John White appealed to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. He was turned down. More time elapsed as negotiations over price, compensation for loss of development rights, rights of way, access and roads, dragged on. The clerk to the county council intervened to express the hope that they would not delay building as "so many of our schools in this rapidly expanding county are bursting at the seams".
The Ministry of Education had given approval to a school with 450 places. Eventually in May 1961 the county council agreed to the detailed schedules of accommodation of the 3-form entry secondary modem school at an estimated cost of £253,256. The school was included in the 1962-3 major building programme but the land in dispute was not finally acquired until December 1961 when the owner received his price from the county council, plus a much larger sum for loss of development rights from the Government.
When the first headmaster, Frank Maynard, visited the site in March 1964 he saw only "sticky clay and gaunt structures of steel and concrete". But by that September the seemingly impossible had been achieved and the school was ready to receive seventy-two children. After prayers that morning they began work. The children’ came from the neighbouring villages of Essendon, Newgate Street, Northaw, as well as from Brookmans Park and the hamlets in the parish. The new secular secondary school was to create a community wider and more various than that which the old church had held together for centuries. In the future it would receive all sorts of children, without distinction of different kinds of ability.
Peter Kingsford, 1987
Index - North Mymms Schools & their Children 1700 - 1964
Preface - Why Peter Kingsford wrote the book
Time Chart - Key dates in the educational history of North Mymms
Sources - Where Peter Kingsford researched his material for the book