MANOR PARK GRAMMAR SCHOOL

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1963-64

At around 8:05 David Lee used to be one of the first to arrive at school, not because he was keen, but because his father gave him a lift to the bus-stop on his way to work. Caretaker, Mr Kenning often employed David to take a sample from the swimming pool to check the chlorine levels and the temperature. Later David would become a victim of the pool when he broke his nose, showing off, doing a bomb.

One day a lower 6th former threw a lump of sodium, (or was it potassium?) into the pool. It whizzed about and caused quite a stir. The individual was not popular as it put the pool temporarily out of use.

Mr D. Prior, then head of physics, was responsible for arranging the science laboratories in the new building which opened in 1965: chemistry on the ground floor, physics on the first floor and biology on the second floor.

1968-69

As usual, in May, letters were sent out by Nuneaton’s Education Department to parents of children in their final year at primary school notifying at which secondary school "a place will be available", with places at the grammar schools allocated to "those who have obtained the higher scores in the selection tests". For those offered at place at Manor Park letters signed by Mr Goodburn followed, one asking "If you wish him/her to accept it, please complete and return attached form without delay". A second set out the times of the school day, "MORNING SCHOOL 8-40 to 12-15 p.m. AFTERNOON SCHOOL 1-25 p.m to 3.30 p.m.", rules applying to illness, homework, bicycles and showers after PE, as well as asking for 4/- per term for school fund and 1/6 per day for "School Dinners". A third letter, "TO BE RETAINED FOR REFERENCE" listed requirements for uniform, and clothing for P.E. and practical subjects, "Apron – obtainable at School for 8/-". Further notes gave the house and its colour to which the pupil had been allocated and an invitation to choose between French and German, "this cannot be promised as other factors have to be taken into consideration". Finally there was a letter inviting "all new parents" to a meeting in the school hall on 26th June with a post-script that new pupils should attend school, in uniform, "for a little while" at 10am on Tuesday 2nd September 1969, the day before the start of term.

1969-70

A birthday in February and playing rugby for the school was not a good combination. The pool was not a nice place to celebrate despite being insisted upon by so called friends. If mental health problems had been invented then Peter Boyce would have had them.

1974-75

By 1974/5 a few teachers including Mr Craddick, head of science, and Mr Pepper, head of geography, were still wearing academic gowns, but the gowns disappeared completely by the following year.

Head of History Mr N J Davies, ran Chess clubs every Wednesday lunch time in the history rooms, now accommodated in the ROSLA classrooms at the back of the school. These were often referred to as the cow sheds.

Although he retired in July 1975, Mr. Dunkerley’s legacy would live on for many years: measure twice, cut once (it's not like next door where you can weld a new piece on), referring to metal work with Mr Reece; fingers were "universals" a person’s most important tools!

1976-77

Deputy Head Mistress, Miss M Palmer, taught R.E. sessions, which invariably were discussions around sex or drugs or both! She also had a mantra of repeatedly pointing out the health problems of chewing gum.

Mr Young joined the physics department after completing a PhD. at Sheffield University. A notable lesson was a discussion on electrical currents. He had two wires, live and neutral connected to a battery and apparently must have felt too far away from the group. So he came to the front of his bench and proceeded to tell the class never to put the two wires together and then demonstrated his point. He flew backwards right over the top of his bench. Members of staff immediately came his aid, although he himself was laughing at what had just happened. A quick cup of tea and the lesson continued.

On another occasion Mr Young was giving a noisy, slightly disruptive lesson The Head of Physics walked into the lesson from the adjoining staff room. The whole class got to it's feet and went silent. "I must get to know him", said Mr Young, smiling.

Plus ça change

After 31 years and a term Mr Kirkbride retired in July 1984. He had been born in the mining village of Hordon in County Durham and applied to join the RAF when he left school, but was too young to be accepted. Consequently got a job with the London & North Eastern Railway. He was discharged from the RAF at the end of 1946 and trained to teach P.E. He was appointed Head of Upper School in 1976. After retirement he wrote "Easter 1953 [..] was the beginning of many happy years in an environment in which I could develop not only an interest in P.E. but also an interest in other subjects. I found that it was a pleasure to teach young people who appreciated all that was done for them. Naturally there were exceptions to that statement and I did have some problem students from time to time. I started teaching Maths to the Lower School and developed an interest in practical Maths in the form of Technical Drawing. I had tuition in this subject and eventually taught the subject to ‘O’ and ‘A’ level G.C.E."

He also commented on a noticeable change in attitude by not only the pupils, but also their parents, after Manor Park became a comprehensive school.

The swimming pool continued in use, both for swimming and for canoe lessons, beyond 2000.

"News of Old Scholars"

Keith Stansfield served as a Magistrate in County Durham for a time where he bumped into another old scholar, Trevor Hewitt, who was working for the Magistrates Service.

 

Contributions from David Barrs, Peter Boyce, Steve Doughty, Gerald Fulleylove, Trevor Hewitt, Maurice Hurst, Anne Lancaster, David Lee, Vivienne Naylor, Jan Rigby (Kirkbride), Bev Moore and Malcolm Price.

 

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