MANOR PARK GRAMMAR SCHOOL

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Abbey Street School on Abbey Green was one of four schools built in Nuneaton  in 1847, by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education to provide elementary education, in accordance with the teaching of the Church of England, for the children of the poor.

The government gradually took more responsibility for education over the later years of the nineteenth such that by 1891 education was compulsory and free for all 5 to 13 year olds, administered by local education boards.

'National' schools were absorbed into the state system following the Education Act of 1902, which also allowed local boards to provide secondary education. The 1918 Act raised the school leaving age to 14. The expansion in the local population together with broadening of the age range meant that Abbey Street could no longer accommodate the necessary number of children and with no room to expand it was decided that Nuneaton's first secondary school should be built half a mile away on "Queens Road Farm"

Manor Park School opened in 1928 as a secondary school   for pupils aged  11 to 14, while the under-11s continued to be taught at Abbey Street.

The buildings consisted of eight classrooms, four either side of a central block accommodating cloakrooms, the staff room and the headmaster's office.  There was also a craft centre and and cookery centre.

Work began on the school hall and additional rooms for science and art in 1938, but was not completed until September 1941.  This work formed the two quadrangles. The gymnasium with its changing rooms opened two months later.

Following the 1944 Education Act, amid discussions in 1948 about expanding secondary school provision, Nuneaton Education Committee decided that not all children who passed the ‘scholarship examination’ would be suitable for grammar school education, but had "that special type of brain which justified their being selected for special attention." The school was not to be a junior technical school turning out bricklayers or engineers, but the bias of the school would result in pupils being equipped to learn their jobs more quickly or go onto further education in technical colleges or study at universities for degrees in applied sciences. Hence the proposal to turn Manor Park into a technical school.

A two storey classroom block plus workshops for metalwork were opened in 1955.

 

 

A swimming pool, funded by PTA fund raising and partly dug out by sixth formers, was opened in 1960.

Six science laboratories formed the centre of a three-storey extension opened in 1964.

Compared to the grammars and secondary moderns technical schools were expensive to equip and staff  and so were few and far between.  Even by 1960 many education authorities had not established any technical schools in their areas.

So, based on the fact that pupils sat the same (11+) examination to enter technical schools as they did to enter grammar schools, it was decided that technical school would be re-designated grammar schools.  Manor Park became officially Manor Park Grammar School in 1960.

But this only remained for 12 years. The Labour Government dictated the end of selective education with their "Circular 10/66".  The last grammar school pupils at Manor Park began their first year in 1972.  The last sixth formers left in the summer of 1975 and those first years of 1972 left in 1977. The school reverted to the title 'Manor Park School' and became one of Nuneaton's Comprehensive schools for 12-16 year-olds.

In 1994 there was another reorganisation and Manor Park became a school for 11-16 year-olds. At about the same time, in response to falling numbers, the County Council toyed with the idea of demolishing the older classrooms around the quadrangles.

Manor Park School closed in 2010 when it's pupils joined those of Alderman Smith School in Stockingford which became Nuneaton Academy, although the buildings in Beaumont Road continued to be used for another year while construction work at the academy was completed.

The school stood empty for some five years. But Warwickshire County Council needed a school in the north of the county for children with special needs. Eventually builders were sent into the oldest part of the school to refurbish the rooms around the quadrangles and the school reopened as "Discovery Academy" in September 2016, once again a "selective" school !

 

   

Extracted from 'A Short History'