The Last Fifteen Years 1982 – 1997

The Last Fifteen Years 1982 – 1997

By Mr.G.P.Gallie, B.A., Headmaster

Parents of present pupils who themselves came to John Taylor High School are familiar with almost all the buildings now in use. The 1980’s and 1990’s have not been times of capital expenditure on schools. Only those who venture to the further fringes of the site see the new ‘mobile’, the new Science Laboratory and Modern Languages block of four good classrooms, all installed in the last six years through the demands from Governors that growth required space.

Inside the main buildings, if they only see the entrance area, the stairways and the corridors, parents again perceive few changes. But they soon remark on a different atmosphere once through the classroom doors. The white boards, the lighting and the decoration are less institutional. There are carpets and curtains or blinds in most rooms. Visitors comment on the orderliness during lesson time, though noting how crowded many classrooms are. In 1989 the rooms were re-arranged to allow for departmental ‘suites’, though office or storage space is still limited. The former Library has been transformed into a large Resources Centre with multi-media equipment. The workshops have design facilities. There are two computer training rooms and, increasingly, computers for use in other areas. There is vivid art work on the walls.

All this has been made possible, to a great extent, by the move to Local Management since 1990. Previously, the school had control of approximately £50,000 each year on expenditure only on stationery, books and small items of equipment. The Governors and Head now have full discretion in the allocation of over £2,500,000 each year. The funding per pupil has been one of the lowest for any secondary school in Britain ( only just over £10 per teaching day for all costs of a pupil in 1996 ) and has fallen in real terms. Nonetheless, even small savings, or earnings from lettings and services, are put into school improvements every year.

Alongside Local Management have been curricular changes, caused partly by the National Curriculum, partly by the school’s own perception of pupils’ needs in a fast changing world. Like all secondary schools, John Taylor responded to comprehensive expansion and the raising of the leaving age to 16 in the 1970’s with a multiplication of attractive new courses, many leading to semi-vocational certificates. Choice appeared essential for the diversity of students’ abilities and diversity of careers available. By the 1990’s the only route to any secure career was through more demanding qualifications requiring a higher level of basic skills and understanding. To achieve this it may appear on the surface that a ‘grammar school’ curriculum for all has been established with a single exam evolved from the former ‘O’ level. All students now study Sciences, a Modern Language, English Literature as well as Language and History, Geography or Religious Studies through to G.C.S.E.. However, approaches within these subjects have changed with greater emphasis on problem solving and oral skills, and Technology is also compulsory for all. Nor have pre-vocational courses disappeared. Nearly one third of Sixth Form students are now involved in GNVQ courses offering an alternative route to higher education, sometimes after three years of study.

The Sixth Form has accordingly seen an enormous growth. It now has more students, 270, than the whole school had pupils in 1957. Their accommodation in the original canteen area is woefully inadequate, but study provisions are being improved. This increase of older pupils has been a major factor in the growth of the total school roll to 1,300. However, there has been an increase also in the size of younger year groups. This is despite the relative decline in the number of pupils living within the traditional catchment area, and approximately a quarter of each year group now come from further afield.

The school still aims to be, at heart, a community school, but as with all institutions in the mobile 1990’s that community is not restricted geographically. It is a school chosen by many parents, and indeed a significant number of families have chosen to live in the neighbourhood, because of the education available for their children. The list of 1996 leavers shows how many now complete their education far from Barton-under-Needwood, and they will no doubt go on to work elsewhere. National league tables of examination results, as selected for the national press, place the school in a national context. John Taylor students now achieve grades which place them amongst the most successful from any comprehensive school in the whole country. Meanwhile, in 1997 alone, school groups have competed in national competitions in Sussex, Somerset and Belfast and many other students have been involved in county or regional teams also involved in national events. The community of parents, Governors, staff and students has come to hope for, indeed to expect, no less.

Expectations and hopes have certainly risen, and will continue to rise. Achieving them within the confines of the buildings shown in construction in many of the photographs of this History presents a great challenge to current students and staff alike. But the foundations for all that has been achieved lie within the ‘ living community’ also portrayed. New staff have come over the years, bringing new talents and approaches. Other staff, whose names appear in the lists of the 1960’s and 1970’s, have chosen to commit their whole lives to seeing the school develop. Many of the past pupils who can be seen in photographs, or whose names are listed, are now parents or even grandparents of present pupils. Their hopes and expectations for the future of their children and their school were also born here.





September, 1957

His death on 30th.June,1970 after a long illness.

Mr.G.T.Morgan,M.A.,Acting Head during Mr.Smallwood’s illness.

Easter,1969 July, 1970.


September, 1970

July, 1974.


September, 1974

July, 1988.


September, 1988


(Start of Autumn Term)


Number of pupils
















704 or (711)