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The Maltonian

The School Magazine

Number 121: September 1966
Extracts from the 1966 Maltonian concerning reorganisation of education in Malton and Norton
  1. Headmaster's notes
  2. The Future of Malton Grammar School
    (notes introducing a series of letters on the subject)
  3. Letter from Eric Horsley, Governor
  4. Letter from G C Hanson, Head of Malton County Modern
  5. Letter from G C Howden, Head of Norton Secondary School
  6. Letter from David Pay, teacher at MGS
  7. Letter from Christina McBeath,
    urban district councillor and parent of a MGS 6th former
  8. Letter from Molly Skelton,
    MCM teacher and former Grammar School pupil
  9. Letter from Michael Bogue, 6th former.
HEADMASTER'S NOTES

Your Governors and I have, of course, tried to envisage the best scheme, from an educational point of view, to fit in with the Government's directive that all Secondary Schools must form part of a pattern of comprehensive education; we have also discussed the matter with the Governors and Headmasters of the Malton County Modern School and the Norton County Secondary School at a meeting to which we invited them.

The conclusion at which we have arrived and which will be explained later in this note is based upon three considerations :

  1. Malton and Norton are one town, and one of the ways in which this has been acknowledged is that Grammar School education has always been in one school, Malton Grammar School, for the two towns and their Rural Districts.
  2. The total population of the Urban and the two Rural Districts together is a mere 21,000. This is a small number and less than the population of many a single suburb in a large town. Moreover, children from the fringes of this area naturally go to Schools in places such as Pickering, Scarborough and Driffield. We say, without fear of contradiction, that any educational arrangement which emphasises division rather than unity inside so small a population is bound to be bad, not only educationally but socially also.
  3. This population produces at present in our area a Secondary School population of about 1,100, - rather over 400 at each of our two Secondary Modern Schools and 270 here. The ideal solution would be one Comprehensive School for all these scholars, and such a School would only just exceed the minimum size for a Comprehensive School considered workable by the Ministry of Education and Science. Unfortunately, there is no chance whatever that such a school could be built. The three existing Schools, two of which are new buildings and the third, ours, half new buildings, will clearly have to be used for very many years yet.

In the light of these considerations, - which, let us remember, are facts and not opinions, - we believe that the soundest solution educationally is some form of what is popularly known as the Leicestershire Plan, because it was first tried in that County. Such a solution is permitted by the Minister in his circular about Comprehensive Education, the actual scheme being described under paragraph 3 (iii) of that circular.

In a Leicestershire-type scheme, all the Schools in an area except one are fully Comprehensive between the ages of 10-13 or 11-14, i.e. they take all the children in the area. At 13 or 14 those children who are clearly going to be best suited to a strongly academic type of education transfer to another School, at which they will stay at least until they are 16 and in most cases until they are 18. Those children who do not choose to go to the academic type of School stay on in their original School in the ordinary way until school-leaving age.

Three important points should be noted here:

  1. As the choice to take up an academic type of education is made at 13 or 14, it is clearly going to be a better and wiser choice than one made at 11-plus.
  2. The decision to transfer to an academic sort of education at 13 or 14 is voluntary. The child has to want it, the parents have to want it, and the teachers should be able to agree that it is a sensible thing to do in the case of each particular child.
  3. Since every child at this academic type of school will be there of his or her own free will, it is to be expected that very few will want to leave at 16; most will naturally be thinking of leaving at 18 to go on to some further education or training.
In view of the sizes of the three existing buildings, - Malton County Modern School 400, can take 450; Norton County Secondary School 400, can take 500; Malton Grammar School 270, can take 320, - this solution seems to us by far the most sensible. Under it, children from Malton County Modern and Norton County Secondary Schools who wished for a markedly academic type of education would transfer to our School at age 13 or 14. Our School would at first drop in numbers, since we should be losing our 1st and 2nd Forms. But we believe that as more and more children, having made their voluntary choice to come here, worked to the limit of their abilities, our Forms, and particularly our Sixth Form, would expand rapidly beyond their present size.

But numbers are really irrelevant to this question. Our solution must be judged on three grounds alone, and these are: what is best for the children in our area educationally; what makes best use of the existing buildings and their equipment; and what is most economical and least wasteful of the taxpayer's money.

P.T.T.

THE FUTURE OF MALTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL

It has recently become apparent that the future of Malton Grammar School as a Grammar School is to be limited to a few years. Quite what the future holds in store for the school has not yet been finally decided. Two alternative schemes have been proposed. One suggestion is that Norton County Modern School should become a comprehensive school catering for the needs of the children from the East Riding up to and including the Fifth Form, whilst those wishing to continue their studies in the Sixth Form, after having successfully taken O-level, should be transferred to a Malton Comprehensive School. This will be created by combining Malton Grammar School with Malton County Modern School.

The alternative proposal is that Malton and Norton County Modern Schools should become Junior High Schools, and that Malton Grammar School should become a Senior High School being- given those pupils who' wished to continue with their education after the normal school leaving age, from about the Third Form onwards.

It can be seen from this that many changes are inevitable. There are those people who always think that any change will inevitably be a change for the worse. Similarly, there are those who like change for the sake of change. Everyone will have his own view as to what education in the Malton and Norton district will really be like in ten or fifteen years time. We, of course, are particularly interested in how these changes will effect us at Malton Grammar School, but the changes at the two County Modern Schools, and the effects that these changes will have on education in general, is something which should also concern us.

We have, therefore, asked a number of Malton and Norton people, all of whom are in some way connected with one of the schools, to give us their comments on the changes. These comments are printed below.

(It has been pointed out to the Editors that they have named Norton County Secondary School incorrectly, for which they apologise).

COMPREHENSIVE OR APPREHENSIVE?

From Eric Horsley
Sir
Change there must be; selection by means of the 11-plus examination incurs many valid criticisms and any method of selection akin to this must be considered as unacceptable.

It is reasonable to assume that the margin of error involved in selection at 11 would be greater than if the selection be delayed by two or three years.

We in this area are peculiarly situated in as much as we are administered by two authorities, East and North Ridings, involving the three schools Malton Grammar School and Malton and Norton Secondary.

The governors of these schools are unanimous in their joint decision that unity on this important matter must be the Keyword.

The M.G.S. and Malton Secondary School being geographically ideally situated, it would seem that a happy and practical working arrangement would be the treatment of these as one unit. This envisages the M.G.S. being used as a Senior High School or Sixth Form College and would ensure a natural continuation of the Junior School with the unaltered gamut of interest and ability to educate for behaviour as well as academic success. It would also eradicate a criticism leveled by pupils that the adult status of present sixth forms suffers adversely from the close proximity of much younger children. All pupils from Malton and Norton Junior Schools qualified to take a higher education at 16 years and wishing to do so, should be pledged to remain at M.G.S. until 18 years of age.

I feel this method would work well but the Ministry will doubtless have the last word.

(Signed) ERIC HORSLEY,
Governor of M.G.S.

From G C Hanson
Sir,
There are numerous points one can make both in support of and against the joining of the Grammar and Modern Schools in Malton. I am directly involved in this and have an axe to grind, but this apart, I would not be in favour for the following, among other reasons:

  1. Our country owes a large measure of its success to its Grammar Schools, and M.G.S. is no exception. I should hate to see it die.
  2. The Modern School has also proved its value to the community. It appears to me to be wrong to cut it off in its prime when it has finally established itself. Many of the children in the Modern School who hold posts of responsibilitv, play in Sports teams, who are members of the choir and take part in School dramatics would be denied many of these places.
  3. A successful Comprehensive School depends to a large extent on its 6th Form to attract sufficient members of suitably qualified Staff. I don't think the numbers of children are present yet and probably wouldn't be until 1970.
  4. Any School functions best in one building, and there are obvious physical drawbacks in joining two Schools even as adjacent as these two are.

Yours faithfully,
(Signed) G. C. HANSON,
Headmaster, County Modern School.

From G C Howden
The "High School" proposals substitute unfettered parental option at 13 years for selection of 18% at 11 years. For the 45% of mixed abilities opting to transfer (Leicestershire figures) the Junior High School would be but a corridor and the ameliorating admission of 10 year aids may conflict with the forthcoming Plowden report. Transfers between schools during a G.CE. course raise problems of curriculum, syllabus and teaching. Would G.C.E., C.S.E., Commercial, Craft, Agricultural and non-examination courses now at Norton develop in the Senior High School or would G.C.E. work only be undertaken? Reduced numbers would preclude their continuing at Norton. Certainly the rump remaining would be offered less than at present.

The alternative "Comprehensive" proposal is a natural development for Norton. East Riding General Secondary Schools (vide Ministry classification) are already built, equipped and staffed for the "0" Level courses they are required and helped to provide. Comprehensive schools every where have generated ever larger academic and vocational Sixth Forms.

With Malton and Norton combined now producing a Sixth Form of less than optimum size, may not the future lie more in development there, with separate accommodation and boarding school experience for all, closer links with York and its university, and, dare I say, for all schools a longer school day?

(Signed) G. C. HOWDEN,
Headmaster, Norton Secondary School.

From David Pay
Sir,
Following the recent controversy over the 11-plus examination in this area it is obvious that one or other of the two schemes mentioned above should be adopted. A Malton Comprehensive School is a completely unworkable proposition, the Grammar School and the County Modern School are situated too far apart to make a comprehensive school possible; the distance the pupils (or staff) would have to travel between schools is too great. If the school is divided into Senior and Junior Halves or G.C.E. streams and C.S.E. streams this is not comprehensive education in the true sense.

The alternative proposal of Junior and Senior High Schools is much more acceptable; much less organization would be required for such a change, the schools would be entirely separate with their own Headmasters, Staff and administration The Grammar School as the Senior High School, could still maintain its traditions and intimate atmosphere while at the Junior High School there would be no feeling of ll-plus failure. Such a system would lead to a working harmony between the Junior and Senior High Schools and would ultimately bring the two schools closer together.

(Signed) D. PAY.
Staff M.G.S.

From Christina McBeath,
Sir
Without first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of an undertaking of this magnitude, it is all too easy to make sweeping statements which may well prove negative when examined in the light of all the known facts, but basically I do not subscribe to the pessimistic view that to "go comprehensive" will mean the end of the grammar school.

I foresee a bright future for the school, if the alternative proposal suggested above is introduced. The Grammar School or "Senior High" would take pupils at a more mature level, who in their first year will already have a sense of purpose, and with the Head and staff encouraging a sense of pride in belonging as well as in academic attainment then the school will not lose any of the present atmosphere.

The present grammar school education is a fine system, but too narrow in application for to-day's world. The scope of senior education must be considerably broadened if the "top of the milk" as well as the academic "cream" is to be trained to the fullest extent.

The comprehensive method will banish the ll-plus examination, and with it will go the "failure" label awaiting those who do not pass. I, for one, will not mourn its demise.

(Signed) CHRISTINA McBEATH,
Councillor on Malton Urban Council and parent of a Sixth Former at M.G.S.

From Molly Skelton
At last an end to the annual local controversy of grammar school places is in sight. So too is the dreadful term 11-plus failure." It is a well known fact that many "failures" gain University and College places thus making a mockery of 11-plus selections.

The advantages of the amalgamation of the County Modern School and the Grammar School into a comprehensive unit far outweigh any possible disadvantages. This unit will not be so large as to be unwieldly nor so small as to be impractical.

For the sake of the pupils in these schools at the time of the changeover, may I make a plea for early and full negotiations between the staffs concerned so that the change over be as smooth and efficient as possible.

(Signed) MOLLY M. SKELTON,
O.M. and Member of Staff of Malton C.M.S.

From Michael Bogue
At first sight it may appear that members of M.G.S. might have everything to lose by such a system (e.g. the high standard of teaching from small classes, individuality and esprit de corps), and County Modern students have everything to gain.

However, the educational and sociological advantages to be gained from the introduction of Junior and Senior High Schools are numerous. The need for the "11-plus" would be eliminated and great benefit would be secured from the eradication of any ensuing 'feeling of failure by candidates who do not pass. Also a greater number of students would have the chance to take "0" and "A" level examinations without having their careers suddenly defined for them at a much earlier age. My opinion, therefore, is that the introduction of Junior and Senior High Schools would integrate education so as to ensure a logical and progressive education for tomorrow's pupil, an advance which will eventually benefit everyone.

(Signed) MICHAEL BOGUE, M.G.S.. Form 6U.