Laindon High Road School

A good or bad school?

By Paul Stickland

Having read many favourable comments about Laindon High Road School, I thought it might be interesting to reflect on my time there and perhaps hear the opinion of others. I attended the school between September 1962 and April 1966. My form teachers were, 1st year - Mrs S. Newton, 2nd year - Mrs M Griffiths, 3rd year - Mr B Cox, 4th year - Mr T Turner. Whilst I have happy memories of these times, my personal verdict is that it gave a pretty poor education. I left at 15 with no qualifications and probably barely literate. Much of this was probably my own fault as I was as always in trouble and rarely felt enthused by the lessons.

I have lost count of the number of times I was caned, many times 6 of the best on the hand and on one occasion 6 on each hand. This was for breaking a window with a football, which I think was rather harsh for an accident. It is often said that "corporal punishment never did me any harm", this may be so, but I'm not sure it did any good as we were always going back for more. We also quite often got the ruler on the hand from form teachers. On one occasion a teacher laid me out with a right hook. I should think he would be sent to prison today. I accept that corporal punishment was the norm in most schools at this period but I personally think it was excessive. 

My children have all achieved 12 GCSE's, A levels and degrees. My youngest son has a masters degree and is hoping to do a PHD. This kind of academic achievement was unthinkable for anyone I went to school with.

I would be very interested to hear the opinion of others who attended the school during this period.

This page was added by Paul Stickland on 03/06/2016.
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I was at LHR 1956-60.  Uniform was optional.  However Prefects were asked to wear school uniform on formal occasions.  Those students attending with Mr Miniken at the Chelmsford County Show to demonstrate pottery during this time, were also asked to wear uniform.  Girls wore white blouse and a navy skirt whilst boys wore white shirt black tie and dark trouser. Hopefully my memory is serving me right!      

By Georgina Nottage nee Ellingford
On 17/08/2017

My time at this school spanned the years 1958 to 1962 inclusive and during that time there was no dress code other than to be clothed!  I seem to recall that in later years a uniform was introduced but I cannot be sure, maybe somebody younger can clarify this matter? 

By Donald Joy
On 17/08/2017

Does any one remember what the uniform rules were at LHR during the 50s and 60s? When looking at the old photos there seems to be very little consistency of dress, particularly the girls.  My memory is very hazy on this, but I do seem to remember wearing jeans to school. It would seem that uniform was optional, which seems strange on reflection. 

By Paul Stickland
On 17/08/2017

Simple answer - this was a good school, it did what was required of it, it taught us how to learn. We left being literate and numerate with a small amount of knowledge of many other subjects. Most people have learned so much more about so many different things since they left school than they ever did while at school. This is only because they had been taught how to learn. 

To reply to Paul Sargeant - This country did not lose the ability to manufacture any of the things he mentions. We failed to install managers who had foresight, drive and ambition. We as a nation put in place management who were comfortable with their lot and settled back to become reasonably well off without making waves. The management of large companies needed to be like Alan Sugar or Richard Branson, not the lazy b@#¥*s that drove British industry into oblivion. Rant over. 

By Donald Joy
On 19/07/2016

I have been reading some of the comments re the education at Laindon High Road.  The standard of education in our era - I left in 1957, was not as it is today.  I was lucky to be able to stay on into the 5th year to take the shorthand and typing course, the teacher being Miss Maitland, who was not a permanent staff member, as she also taught Greg shorthand at another school or college.  GCE's only came in after I left there, the boys in the class did technical drawing, etc.  Mr. Gay was our class teacher.

As always with education, working hard pays results.  The teachers were all very dedicated in those times and altogether, I would say it was a pretty good school in its day.  The teachers were allowed to discipline the children and behavior was far better than a great deal of the children are in this country today!

By Isabel Smith
On 02/07/2016

In my work I deal with people using the written word and the vast majority cannot or cannot be bothered to spell correctly, there is something called a spell checker available that can be used and isn't. In my lifetime this country has lost the ability to build ships, cars, planes or anything else for that matter and maybe we are losing the ability to use the education that was offered to us.

By Paul Sargeant
On 08/06/2016

To Nina's point, the English language is always changing. Sometimes quite rapidly as, for example, from Chaucer to Shakespeare. There is only a two hundred year time difference between the two yet the two forms of English are very different. We find Shakespeare (400 plus years distant) quite easy to understand while Chaucer (600 years distant) is virtually indecipherable.

The present age of hi-tech seems to be a period where the speed of change has intensified. Add to this the fact that the rules of grammar and spelling are often different in American-English. The UK seems to be more influenced by the US than the reverse (Hollywood, Silicon Valley) which only confuses the matter further. In the US school system the old diagramming of sentences (subject, predicate, object etc) has long since gone the way of all flesh. Is the same in the UK?

The internet seems to have brought a need to invent a whole new language. I only just discovered that "lol" means "laugh out loud". I thought it was "lots of love."

By Alan Davies
On 07/06/2016

I’m convinced the poor spelling and grammar on Facebook is not a reflection of what is being taught in schools.  The education my 13 year old granddaughter is receiving in Comprehensive school is excellent.  Social Media appears to have developed a language of its own where double negatives have become the norm (e.g. don’t know nothing) in addition to terms such as ‘would of’ instead of ‘would have’.  Also, due to TV programmes such as TOWIE and Eastenders, it has become trendy to use such language.  This I believe is where the fault lies – not with today’s schools. 

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 07/06/2016

The question you need to ask is 'was the education we received then, worse than you get from the bog standard comprehensive of today' and I don't think it was. There was always the chance of passing the 13 plus to go to grammar school and one person in my class did just.

If you look on Facebook there are not many people who can spell and use punctuation properly so education of today doesn't seem to be working.

By Paul Sargeant
On 06/06/2016

Good for me, Mr Foreman took personal interest so as to get the best out of his pupils; and he and Mr Gilchrist p.e. took the class on holiday to the Isles of Scilly!  Mr. Bear encouraged my Maths, so as to get job in Betting Shop; August 1960.

By Roger Wicking
On 06/06/2016

In response to Anne, I suppose I was one of the very naughty ones! There are some very valid and fair points in these replies. I am unable to compare LHR with other secondary modern schools of the period. I suspect as Paul says, it was on a par with others. At my wife's school, in Colchester the headmaster told the girls that it was a waste of time stopping on unless they wanted to be a nurse.

It can be said with certainty that friends and relations who attended grammer or technical schools had a far superior education. I too have gone on to gain technical qualifications and an open university degree. These and the achievements of my children, would I modestly suggest, imply that I was not actually as stupid, as I was repeatedly told. Many things have improved in the 50 years since I left school. That said, I think we were lucky to grow up in the 50s and 60s and I do not envy the pressure that is put on young people today. I would have liked some encouragement though.

By Paul Stickland
On 05/06/2016

I attended LHRS from 1950-1955.  It was a happy time and not much corporal punishment, except for the very naughty.

Thanks to Geography teacher Mr Gay, History teacher Mr Rees, Biology teacher Miss Jollyman, cookery teacher Mrs Badger, and form teacher for the last two years Mr Cluff, I can hold up my own in any quiz.

The lessons in needlework (Mrs Gay) and housecraft have lasted all my life and I still use the methods.  The last two years spent learning shorthand, typing and business studies have meant that I could always find employment.

We had a good gym and annual sports days.  Also some memorable school outings.  I belonged to the school choir which I enjoyed so much I now belong to the local Choral Society.

By Anne Burton
On 04/06/2016

To Paul's point, society's values and priorities change. The world today is vastly different. Sixty years ago the taxpayer money did not exist to support anything more than a very limited formal education. I stress the word "formal" because many of us went on to secure further education through apprenticeships, evening classes, correspondence school courses and the like. Yes, caning and other forms of what today would be called physical abuse were common. So was the death penalty! It was a different world. It is impossible to imagine, in that lost world of sixty years ago, complaining that the teacher was invading your "safe space" when caning was imminent or walking into the girls' loo and claiming that you "identified" as a female. What a brave new world the young inhabit today. A world with a great deal of confusion, uncertainty, constantly changing values, where truth is only relative. That old lost world was not at all bad. Not at all!

By Alan Davies
On 04/06/2016

I was always in the "B" stream at LHR and don't know whether this made a difference or not but I have always considered I received an excellent education.  I stayed until I was 16+ to take the shorthand and typing course.  Us "B" stream girls were badly let down regarding shorthand, the teacher leaving in the middle of the course, but the teacher who took on the class concentrated on our typing and most of us left being able to do at least 30 wpm which was the speed needed for most jobs and he made sure that we all knew our "short forms" in Pitman's which helped us to obtain reasonable shorthand speeds.  The "B" stream wasn't considered good enough for the GCE exams but we took the RSA exams, most of us obtaining good grades.  Perhaps 5X2 was lucky to have a teacher like Mr Foreman who brought out any abilities we may have had.

In the 1980's when my son went to senior school he attended a recently built school.  We went to an introduction night and the teachers were enthusing over the fact that the school had a library, gym, cookery, wood and metal work, needlework, art and pottery classes.  This didn't overly impress me as LHR in 1958/60 had all that, and an open-air swimming pool!

By Georgina Nottage (nèe Ellingford)
On 04/06/2016

Whilst I agree with some of your comments I must say that most of my peers that I have had the pleasure of meeting up with over the years have done rather well for themselves despite the lack of quality education, the 15 to 20% that stayed on to the 5th year were rewarded with GCE qualifications and many went on to further education, night school was available free to all in those days.

Many of us who chose to leave at 15 went on to study at the University of Life, others called it the School of Hard Knocks, but I do think what education we all had in those times was typical of the secondary modern post war era. As with most aspects of modern life in those 50 years since we left school education has moved on enormously, and like your offspring, mine too left with good qualifications and the opportunity to achieve more at University.

Knowing former pupils from other Basildon schools I believe Laindon was on par with the likes of Woodlands and Barstable. sadly some may say we were born 50 years too early when you look at what the students of today can expect, no caning, no flying chalk and certainly no right handers from teachers along with the most up to date technology that is available.

I well remember my father telling me of his school days in the early 1900s you were given a piece of slate and some chalk, no heating or electric lights, no school lunches, you paid a penny a week for the privilege and you left at 13, like everything else it's all relative to the times.

On a brighter note for those who attended Laindon High Road School between 1958 and 1968 we have a reunion on the 17th Sept 2016 to be held locally so please register for a place at register@laindonhighroadschool.co.uk

By Paul Gibson
On 04/06/2016
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