Free books to download
“HEAR THEIR FOOTSTEPS”
The story of the School and the Old Edwardians in World War One 1914-18.
This can be obtained from
HELION PUBLISHING COMPANY, SOLIHULL. Tel no 0121 705 3393
The story of the School and the Old Edwardians in World War Two 1939-45.
This book can be purchased from the School’s reception for £10 +p&p
Tel No 0114 266 2518
How KES became Co-educational
If comprehensive education had not been introduced in Sheffield in the 1960s then King Edward’s would not have become a co-educational school at that time. It is possible that it would never have become one.
The massive re-organisation of the City’s tri-partite system of grammar schools, secondary modern schools and technical schools created the opportunity for a complete re-think of how the city’s schools should be run.
The comprehensive re-organisation of Sheffield‘s school was phased with the north and east of the City being re-organised first. Starting with a new purpose built comprehensive in 1960 that was named Myers Grove, then Hinde House in 1963 and then the first changes to a grammar school when Firth Park admitted its first cohort of unselected pupils in 1964.
There was little opposition to these changes in what were strong Labour held wards, in fact there was much popular support for comprehensive education from families who felt the old system of selection at 11 years of age robbed them or their children of decent educational opportunities. At that time 80% of British children left school at 15 whilst in the USA 80% of children left school at 18, so the the tri-partite system was increasingly judged not fit for purpose in a changing world.
In January 1965 the Council started to grasp the political nettle of how to re-organise the south west of the City. Here were well established and successful grammar schools including High Storrs and Abbeydale, both of which had boys and girls on the same site. The thorniest problem for the Labour Council was what to do about KES their most successful school, where they expected bitter and sustained opposition to their comprehensive plans from parents and the staff. By February 1965 King Edward’s parents had organised the Sheffield Parents’ Association for Secondary Education and ran a very well thought-out campaign against the Council’s proposals to turn this very high performing school (it claimed to be the most successful state school in England and never called itself a grammar school) into a non-selective comprehensive school.
Perhaps because the Council could not face too many fights with the staff and parents at KES, or perhaps just because of the school’s reputation, they agreed that King Edward’s would remain as a boy’s only school in this building, and it would be complemented by a brand new girls-only comprehensive school on a site on Darwin Lane that was currently near completion. These changes in the south west were planned to come into force in 1970 and were passed by the City Council in April 1965.
Under a new Chair of the Education Committee, Coun. Peter Horton, a fervent advocate for comprehensive education, the Council had a re-think in 1967 because they were concerned that there were too many secondary/middle schools proposed in the City and it was not an effective plan in either financial or administrative terms. They also revised the date for completing their comprehensive scheme throughout the city and brought it forward one year to September1969.
Peter Horton was tasked to find ways of reducing the number and he got it down from 35 to 31 schools. One of the schools affected was King Edward’s, where it was decided that instead of two separate schools, one for boys on Glossop Road and one for girls on Darwin Lane there would be one co-educational school on two sites. Meanwhile the new Crosspool School, based on the Darwin Lane site, had started life as a co–educational secondary modern school in the autumn term of 1965 (It had previously been Western Road School in Crookes since 1901). This new school would have a brief independent life before it would combine with KES in 1969. The primary school that remained in Crookes would be renamed Westways.
So in this somewhat inglorious manner King Edward’s became a co-educational school.
Starting in January 1966, the new KES Headmaster, Russell Sharrock, welcomed the fact that he would soon be running a co-educational school and had already appointed a woman teacher, Mrs. J.M. White, a Durham graduate, the first woman to teach at KES since 1952 when the wartime female staff had all finally retired.
Half the pupils at the new Crosspool School (1965-69) were, of course, girls and the younger ones would eventually become KES pupils in 1969 without moving from their new Darwin Lane buildings.
Then in 1968 the unbelievable happened. The Conservatives gained control of the Council for the first time since 1933 and the KES parents and staff believed the cavalry had arrived in the nick of time. They were now certain that the comprehensive scheme would be abandoned and KES would continue as a boy’s only elite grammar school. After all, through all the rows between the school and the Labour Council in 1926-7, 1944-5 and later in 1985-86 the Conservatives on the Council had always supported the school’s position against the “Socialist” councillors who tended to regard KES as a “Tory” school. However, the parents and staff were to be hugely disappointed as the Conservative Group now in charge at the Town Hall were divided on comprehensive education as were their supporters. Even in the “tranquil highlands” of SW Sheffield more children went to secondary modern schools than grammar schools, whilst families could be divided with one child going to a grammar school
and another at a secondary modern. Also so much of the comprehensive re-organisation had already happened in the north and east of the city.
Led by Coun. Frank Adams, an Old Edwardian and a supporter of comprehensive schools, the Conservative Group did nothing and then lost the local election in May 1969. Against all expectations the Labour Party were back in power and never lost control of the Council again until 1999, and then to the Liberal Democrats not the Conservatives, who slowly declined into extinction in Sheffield politics.
Labour now speeded up the comprehensive plans that had been in abeyance for a year. The date for becoming fully comprehensive throughout the city was confirmed as September 1969 and it was also confirmed that KES/Crosspool would be a co-educational school.
The City Council, the staff and the parents probably expected that the only girls at KES in that first year would be the existing Crosspool girls, plus a new unselected intake arriving at the age of 11 mainly from the surrounding suburbs, many of whom (40% at least) would most likely have passed the 11+ examination if it was still being held.
However, Russell Sharrock and the Deputy Head, Arthur Jackson, had other ideas and agreed that they would try and recruit academically able girls to the Sixth Form and gained permission to recruit up to 20. In the event they recruited 13 and many went on to University including Oxford, although in the Autumn Term of 1969 almost all of the girls at KES were getting their education at the Darwin Lane site that would later be called Lower School.
As for Crosspool School it was now consigned to history as the combined school took the name King Edward VII School, Russell Sharrock was confirmed as the Headteacher, whilst KES staff, all men, filled almost all the positions of significance in the new co-educational comprehensive school.
KES the Co-educational School after 1969
When the new co-educational King Edward VII School started in September 1969 the school was based on two sites, a mile and half apart. One building was on Darwin Lane at Crosspool that had briefly been Crosspool Secondary Modern School (1965-69), while the other one was the imposing classical building on Glossop Road, built between 1837-40, that had once been Wesley College and all the city knew as King Ted’s.
At Darwin Lane (later called Lower School) KES looked like a co-educational school. Half the pupils were girls and many of the teachers were women. Three of the four Year Groups were former secondary modern pupils, but the first year students (10 forms) were an unselected comprehensive intake mainly from the surrounding suburbs and were rather middle class. The Headmaster, Russell Sharrock, believed 40 % would have passed their 11+ exam if it was still being held and most would be capable of taking “O” Level in a few years time.
The Headmaster’s wife (Mary Sharrock, a JP and University Lecturer) designed a new uniform for girls at the school. In winter girls would wear a dark blue skirt and a pink and white gingham blouse, changing in summer to wearing a pink and white striped dress. (One girl said it made them look like humbugs). The colours were not chosen at random but were the colours of the Alexandra rose, named after the wife of Edward VII.
If you looked a little deeper you would find that almost all the Head of Department posts and the Year Tutor posts had gone to former KES teachers, who were all men. The exceptions being the Head of Girls PE, Eileen Langsley, Head of Domestic Science, Jennifer Gelder, Head of Remedial Education, Amy Perry, and Margaret Ward the First Form Girls’ Year Tutor.
It was not until 1973 that a female Assistant Headteacher was appointed when Winifred Kinnear, a former headmistress at a Glossop girls’ secondary modern school was selected, after her own school had been amalgamated with a grammar school to form a new comprehensive school.
Meanwhile at Glossop Road very little seemed to have changed. There were now 13 girls in the Sixth Form but very few other girls graced the grand Palladian building in those early years. One reason given was that there were no separate changing and toilet facilities for girls (the 13 sixth formers used a former staff toilet) and the situation did not change until an ugly breeze-block addition to the rear of the building was completed in 1972. (The boys still used the ancient open-air toilets adjoining the rear perimeter wall and they felt discriminated against after 1972). However, the new Sixth Form girls did embrace one KES tradition and several of them went to university, with two going to Oxbridge, (the first was Margaret Young who went to St Hilda’s at Oxford to read Economics).
The boys in the Sixth Form were universally delighted that there were now girls at the school. Some observed that not only did the arrival of girls have a civilising effect on Sixth Form boys but there was also a softening of their teachers’ strict disciplinary system that had previously often mobilised the use of aggressive sarcasm and the deployment of the cane. Some of the girls who had come from girls’ only schools also enjoyed the attention they received, but were uneasy to be called by their first names while their male classmates were called by their surnames.
There were also six girls’ prefects now and one was the Girls’ Head Prefect (Margaret Hodge was the first in 1970), but at first the Girls’ Head Prefect was not allowed to sit on the platform at Prize Distribution Night.
Gradually women teachers were appointed to teach at Upper School. One of the most respected was Dorothy Hall who came in 1971 to teach History but who became Head of Sixth Form in 1981 for over a decade. The Sixth Form had always been the crowning glory at KES with its numerous Oxbridge successes and under Dorothy Hall it became the largest Sixth Form in the city. This was continued by two other Heads of Sixth Form, Sheila Basford (1993 -2000) and then Dr. Rebecca Carpenter (2000-2016), until it numbered 600 students with very many coming from other schools across the city and joining KES’s own pupils who had been in the school since Y7.
By the early Nineties all three Deputy Headteachers were women. Two of them, Kay Madden (1981-2005) and Kath Auton (1988-2006) had long and significant careers at KES where they played a major role in the continuing transition and success of the school. There have been three female Chairs of Governors since 1986, Shelagh Marston, Carolyn Leary and Barbara Walsh and finally, in 2008, Beverly Jackson was appointed as the first woman Headteacher of KES and was succeeded by Linda Gooden in 2016. Currently there are more women teachers on the staff than men and girls outperform boys at the school at almost every level.
From the earliest years as a co-educational school girls began to make their mark on the school. The Seventies were a golden age for sport at KES and girls’ sport made an equal contribution to the rising standards. In that first decade there were 28 girls’ teams representing the school at a wide variety of sports, with the opportunity to partake in 14 different games or activities, including gymnastics, horse riding and ice skating. One girl, Yvonne Hanson-Nortey, won the shot putt at the English Schools Championship and later represented Great Britain at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, winning a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games at Auckland in 1990. Another girl, Joanna Sime, was a top gymnast, who, while still at school, represented Great Britain in senior international competitions against countries from behind the Iron Curtain.
Similarly girls played an increasingly influential part in KES’s extra-curricular activities, so that today they form a large majority of the school choirs and also of the school dramatic productions. So much so that one forgets that before 1969 all the cast of the school plays, as well as members of the orchestra and choir, were boys. When the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was introduced to the school in 1975 the first two winners of the Gold Award were two girls, Linda Edwards and Sarah Houghton, and they received their award certificates at Buckingham Palace from the Duke himself in 1977.
If the new comprehensive school made a slow start towards gender equality it has made great strides since and many female students have passed through the school and gone on to live positive lives and have important careers in Britain and abroad. Arguably the most famous Old Edwardian of the present day is Emily Maitlis, who left KES in 1989 to read English at Cambridge and has had a stellar career with the BBC, currently serving as the senior presenter on the BBC 2 Newsnight programme.
A short history of
King Edward VII School
Early History 1905-1918
King Edward VII School was founded in 1905 by Sheffield City Council.
The councillors wanted to establish a high performing school that would give a very good education to all its pupils and also send many of them to Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Because they wanted it to be seen as a highly prestigious school they petitioned King Edward VII (1901-10) to seek his permission to name the school after him, and in December 1904 the King agreed.
The Council had planned since 1903 to join together two existing boys’ schools to form King Edward’s.
These two schools were Wesley College and the Sheffield Royal Grammar School (SRGS).
The SRGS was a very ancient school going back to 1604 when it was called the King James Free Grammar School after the new monarch, King James (1603-1625), newly arrived from Scotland.
Before 1905 their building was on Collegiate Crescent and it is still there today but it now part of Hallam University’s Collegiate campus.
Wesley College (1838-1905) was a boarding school for the sons of wealthy Methodists from all over England.
Their building in Broomhill was a magnificent “palace” like a great country house, and the new King Edward VII School moved into this building in 1906 after a year of alterations to the classrooms and the creation of a new assembly hall.
There were only 331 pupils for a start and they were all boys from 8 to 19 years of age. Some of them were in the Junior School who took boys aged 8-11. Until 1915 the Junior School was based on the Lower Corridor of Upper School. Then it moved into a large house on Newbould Lane opposite the school gates.
By 1918 the school numbers had grown to 600. They would eventually be 800 pupils by 1969 when girls were admitted to the school for the first time. Now there are over 1700 students at the school and roughly half are girls and half are boys.
People in Sheffield often referred to the school as “King Ted’s”, but it preferred to call itself KES. In the early days almost everyone had to pay fees (just over £19 a year; a lot of money in those days). However, parents who could afford the fees thought it was worth it, because KES was a successful school, with many pupils going on to university, mainly at Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge.
By the time of the First World War (1914-18) the school had gained a big reputation in the whole of Yorkshire, but many of the former pupils would very sadly be killed in the war. Many of them while serving as junior infantry officers on the battlefields of the Somme, Arras and in the Ypres Salient. Old Edwardians were awarded thirty-two medals for gallantry during the War.
During the War the school included some boys who were refugees from Belgium and because many teachers were in the Army, there were women teachers at KES for the first time.
After the War the school built a War Memorial to remember the ninety former pupils and two teachers who were killed in the War. It is in the form of a stone cross and still stands just near the south-east corner of the main school building.
Between the Wars 1918-39
After 1918 a quarter of the pupils at the school got a free education because they had passed their scholarship at 11 years of age, but the school was still only for boys.
About thirty boys who came from other towns were boarders and they were accommodated in a large house nearby on Clarkehouse Road that was owned by one of the teachers. Today it is a pub that is called the Francis Newton.
In 1922 the School was admitted to the Headmaster’s Conference and therefore could define itself as a Public School.
The school also had its own Army OTC cadets (the Officers Training Corps) with about one hundred pupils in its ranks. The KES Cadet Corps (the OTC) was opposed by the newly elected Labour Council in 1926 who did not want to see young boys preparing for war and they abolished the KES OTC in 1927. This decision of the Council caused a national furore and the Headmaster resigned and the school lost is public school status.
Instead the school formed a large troop of Scouts that continued until 1974. Nowadays, girls and boys belong to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and so enjoy many of the activities, such as camping and exploring, that previously the cadets and the scouts had done.
During these years the school continued to build its reputation as an impressive academic school, but there was also more success at sport (the school played football, not rugby union, and was very successful at cricket) whilst school plays, the orchestra and the choir flourished. Boys made trips abroad to Europe, including visits to Paris, Germany and Switzerland, which was very unusual for schoolboys at that time.
In 1936 a brand new Swimming Pool was built in the corner of the school grounds. It is still in use today. It replaced an old open-air pool that had been built by Wesley College in Victorian times that had become full of dirty water and covered with slime.
Also in 1936 the Junior School (for boys 8-11years old) moved into new premises nearby called Clarke House. It was not needed by KES after 1947 as LEA grammar schools were not allowed to have Junior Schools any longer. It is now the Junior School of Birkdale School.
The Second World War 1939-45
When the War broke out in September 1939 everyone expected an overwhelming assault from the air, right from the start. So KES was not allowed to start the new term until air raid shelters had been built under the school grounds in front of the school. They are still there today; they cannot be seen but they are still fully intact.
When the air raids did finally happen in Sheffield in 1940, KES boys helped to run messages, look out for fires and help rescue injured people. One or two incendiary bombs landed on the school buildings but staff members and pupils put them out. One boy was presented to the King because he had been especially courageous during the big Blitz on Sheffield in December 1940. Four years later that same boy was one of the first British soldiers on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day 1944.
Again, sadly, many Old Edwardians were killed (110 in all) with many of them flying with the RAF. One Naval officer won the George Cross for defusing unexploded mines and bombs and overall, Old Edwardians won sixty awards for bravery.
The Grammar School Years 1945-69
There was a big change at the school after 1945. The year before the Government had passed the 1944 Education Act that created three types of secondary school. Grammar Schools for about 20% of pupils, Technical Schools for 10% and the rest of the boys and girls could go to Secondary Modern Schools from 11 years of age to 15, when they would leave school and go to work.
KES would become one of the Grammar Schools, where everyone had to pass a scholarship exam at 11 years of age, thereby qualifying them to receive an academic education.
The school was still only for boys but now everyone came free to the school and no-one had to pay fees anymore.
Sheffield, a city of half a million people, produced some very able boys and many of them came to KES. Not surprisingly, with all this talent in the school, KES did very well in the “O” level and “A” level exams and an amazing number of boys went to university, especially to Oxford and Cambridge. The school developed a reputation as one of the best day schools for boys in the country.
The Comprehensive Era 1969-present
In the 1960s many people argued that this tri-partite system was unfair. It worked very well for KES, but many people thought that 80% of pupils were getting a poor education and changes needed to be made.
So the movement to introduce Comprehensive Schools in England was intensified, led by the Labour Party both nationally and locally. Sheffield was one of the first LEAs to abolish Grammar Schools and turn all their secondary schools into Comprehensive Schools. The Council argued that this would allow children of all abilities to mix together and this would raise overall standards and give everyone a fairer chance in life. However, there was a considerable campaign of determined opposition to these changes from KES parents and Staff, but most people in the City welcomed Comprehensive Schools.
No longer did children in Sheffield have to take an exam at 11 years of age, that many felt was far too early to decide which kind of school you went to.
KES became a Comprehensive school in 1969 and there were other big changes at that time. Apart from getting pupils of all abilities, the school now admitted GIRLS for the first time. 13 girls were recruited into the Sixth Form, the others came from Crosspool School which was amalgamated with KES.
The numbers went up to 1270 (they had been 800) and so the school needed new buildings. The Lower School took over the recently built Crosspool school buildings at Darwin Lane and some pupils were taught in a house that is now a pub on Clarkehouse Road, that had once been the home of KES boarders. The Sixth Form moved into a big house on Newbould Lane which is now part of the Girls High School.
Today KES is only based on two sites –Darwin Lane and Glossop Road.
Despite all these changes KES continued to do well, but in the 1980s it looked as if the school would lose its Sixth Form. The Council produced a new plan to make all their Comprehensive Schools responsible for educating their pupils only from 11-16 years of age. Then pupils would go to Sheffield College and study whatever subject or skill they wanted to pursue.
But, in 1986 two years before this plan was due to come into operation in 1988, KES and five other schools in south-west Sheffield were allowed by the Conservative Government to keep their Sixth Forms (Y12 and Y13). The Sixth Form flourished in the years following 1988, with the vast majority of students going on to University.
In 2001 a brand new Lower School was opened at Darwin Lane and the old Crosspool School building was demolished (it stood where the all-weather pitch is now situated). Then between 2010 and 2012, Upper School was totally refurbished and a new Sports Hall and Science Laboratories were added.
In 2008 KES appointed a new Headteacher. She was Mrs. Jackson, the first woman to be the Head (there had been 7 men previously since 1905) and she was also the first Head to have been born and educated in Sheffield. She retired in 2016 after the leadership of the school had been rated outstanding by Ofsted inspectors. The Sixth Form was also rated outstanding, and during Mrs. Jackson’s time in office it reached 600 students each year, half of them coming from other Sheffield schools after having successfully taken their GCSE examinations.
In 2016 Linda Gooden became the ninth Headteacher of KES