The School as a Living Institution

The School as a Living Institution

THE SCHOOL STAFF – 1957-1958

  • Mr.H.L.Smallwood, Headmaster. Appointed 17th.May, 1957, to serve from 1st.September, 1957.

Staff present on 4th.September, 1957.

  • Mr.N.W.J.Adams, English. Appointed Deputy Head on the 13th.September, 1957.
  • Mr.G.C.Nicholson, Metalwork.
  • Mr.C.G.Long, History, French, Scripture.
  • Mr.R.T.Harvey, Art.
  • Mr.J.A.Hilton, P.E.
  • Mrs.B.A.Pearce, Domestic Science.
  • Mrs.E.Owen, French.

The following staff had been appointed, but continued at Barton Primary School until the new school opened :-

  • Mr.B.K.Adams, Maths, Science.
  • Miss H.B.Collins, P.E. & Camps.

The following member of staff was offered a post on the 13th September and accepted on the 17th.Sept.

  • Mr.N.Stubbs, Rural Science.      .

All the above were present when the school opened on the 23rd.September,1957, with 248 pupils on roll

The following staff reported for duty on the 25th.October,1957 :-

  • Miss A.M.Bruce, Maths, Science. Appointed Senior Mistress on the 15th.October,1957.
  • Mrs.J.Adams, Geography.  Full-time, temporary.
  • Mrs.M.Bunting, General Subjects. Full-time, temporary.
  • Mrs.P.A.Healy, Commercial. Part-time.

The following staff reported for duty on the 8th.January,1958 :-

  • Mrs.D.I.Harvey, Needlework. ( Formerly Miss D.I.Daniels )
  • Mrs.S.Collis, Domestic Science.
  • Mr.B.Nicholson, Woodwork.
  • Mrs.M.Ball, Music. Part-time (from 13th.Jan.).
  • Mrs.J.Edge, Stands in for Mr.Long from 11th.February.
  • Miss M.A.E.Powell, P.E. , Biology. From 23rd.April,1958.
  • N.B. A Mr.D.Rimmington is recorded as having been appointed for Gardening from January, 1958, but there is no mention of him ever having turned up.

The following were appointed to start in September,1958.

  • Mr.G.E.Carey, Head of Geography. Appointed 11th.February.
  • Mr.D.Sweeney, Head of Music. Appointed 4th.July.


Mrs.B.M.Elson, the School Secretary, had started working on the 9th.September,1957, and Mrs.P.Bell, the Cook-Supervisor, had reported on the 16th. September.

Whilst the school had been thought of many years earlier, it was not until 1957 that it became a living organism. On the 17th.May, at a specially convened meeting, Mr.H.L.Smallwood was appointed as the first headmaster as from the 1st.September. In the weeks that followed he appointed a nucleus of staff, and so it was that, on the 4th.September, 1957, the first staff meeting was held in the new building. No children were in sight, but the staff had begun to work. The entry on the first page of the headmaster’s log book reads

“I, Henry Lee Smallwood, having been appointed first Head Master of the new Secondary Modern School at Barton under Needwood on the seventeenth of May, took up my duties today, Wednesday, the fourth of September, nineteen hundred and fifty seven”.

The assembled team then walked round the school to take stock of the situation, prepared schemes of work and ordered equipment. A great deal of final cleaning of the building was necessary after the builders had left. Workmen prepared flower beds along the south wall of the school, ( alas no longer there ), and Post Office officials called to see if a telephone was needed.

It must have felt wonderful starting off in a new building. A general feeling of optimism prevailed, and this was reflected in a passage written in the first issue of the magazine, later to be called “The Bugle”, which read, “With such an excellent building we can do so many new things”. And so it was that Barton Secondary Modern School opened on the 23rd. September, 1957, with 248 pupils, a figure which increased to 300 by the 14th. October, as the older pupils were drawn from the existing all-age schools in the catchment area. Five buses were needed to bring in the children who did not live locally, and one hundred and seventy seven meals were served on the first day.

From the beginning, the school was organised on a true House system, and the Houses were named after Josiah Wedgwood, David Garrick, Izaak Walton and Samuel Johnson, all associated with Staffordshire. Each House had a Housemaster, and the rest of the staff were divided equally amongst the four Houses. The Houses met on Friday mornings for their own separate Assemblies, beginning with an Act of Worship, and followed by notices about House activities. All the recreational activities of the school revolved round the House.

On the 15th.October, the Headmaster told the Governors that he was going to call the school “John Taylor” ( see Appendix ), and that he was going to ask the Art master, Mr.R.T.Harvey, to design a School Crest with the name inscribed on it. This design, with later modifications by Mr.P.L.Halliday, past Head of the Art Department, is still in use today.

An entry in the Headmaster’s Log Book for the following day, the 16th.October, reads, ” Nothing of great importance happened today “.

Members of staff were asked to award House Points to pupils each week for good work, exceptional behaviour, or for any other laudable reason. Some staff gave them out rather too liberally, with the suspicion that they favoured their own Houses, whilst others hardly ever issued them at all, believing that good work and good behaviour should be expected without reward. A circular distributed to staff by the headmaster in March, 1962, on the subject of House Points states, “All members of staff are expected to award a reasonable number of House Points every week. FOUR members of staff have not handed in their ( House Point ) books this term.” No doubt someone’s knees would have been shaking. The weekly House Point totals, and the winning House, were announced every Friday afternoon at a full school assembly.

From very early days, the school activities included netball, rounders, athletics, cross-country running, gymnastics, girls’ hockey, country dancing and cricket. Basketball, boys’ hockey and a chess competition appeared later, whilst the introduction of rugby had to be delayed until the playing fields had settled down after levelling. There was a problem with stones working their way to the surface, making tackling unsafe. The minutes of the Governors’ Meeting of the 13th.May,1958, note that the seeded playing field was unsatisfactory. Early experiments in taking children to Burton Baths (by the Trent Bridge) proved unsuccessful because there were too many members of the public present. By the 30th.April,1958, arrangements were made for the school to have sole use of one pool and this was a great improvement. The children were conveyed to Burton in two buses. Association football was not brought in until many years later on the grounds that there was not a sufficient number of boys in the school to run both codes at the same time. Many of these activities were the subject of inter-House competitions from the start. House matches were usually played in the Dinner Hour, but the Gymnastics and Country Dancing competitions, held indoors, and the Cross Country competition and the Sports Day, naturally held outside, were highlights of the year, watched by the whole school in lesson time.

In May, 1958, contractors arrived to take measurements for stage curtains, and in July the school took delivery of its first Report Books.

The list of Staff duties (included in the appendix) is amusing to look at, as is the circular regarding Staff instructions for “Official Wet Days”. The latter often caused a great deal of confusion, especially when a few drops of rain fell just as the bell rang for the end of morning school, only to stop a few minutes later.

Fire drills were called from time to time. The staff usually had prior warning. When the fire bell rang, all classes had to clear the building as quickly as possible, line up on the playground, and wait quietly for the registers to be checked. These practices always occurred in lesson time so that the procedure was relatively straightforward, but just think of the chaos which might have resulted if a fire had occurred in the Dinner Hour, when a number of children were off the premises. There would have been no way of checking how many children should have been in the building. It is said that a certain headmaster arranged a fire drill and deliberately hid one pupil in order to see whether the Form Teacher noticed the absence. However, the member of staff found out what was going on and, when he reported that the pupil was missing, the headmaster told him to go into the building to find him. The Form Teacher responded by saying, ” There’s no point in doing that, Sir. You’ve got him locked up in your study “.

School meals were eaten in the Crush Hall, the open area between the main entrance and the Hall. The food was served directly from the kitchen through hatches. The meals were conducted in two sessions, on a House basis, with pupils sitting at tables for eight and one pupil acting as the server. Grace was said before, and after, the meal by the member of Staff on duty. In order that the kitchen staff knew how many meals to prepare each day, Form Teachers had to send down Dinner Slips showing the number of children requiring dinner. Needless to say, everyone looked forward to the special Christmas Dinner. From the very first day, when 177 meals were served, it was realised that the Crush Hall would soon be inadequate for seating all those staying for dinner. On the 21st.January,1958, there was a request from the Governors for the covered cycle storage area to be enclosed and used as dining space. In June, the Governors considered that 160 was the maximum number of children that could be accommodated at one sitting. The request for more space was repeated many times in the minutes, getting its final approval in March, 1963. However, the work on the conversion of the covered cycle area, and its partition into two classrooms, was not finally completed until January,1965.

In the early years the emphasis was on outdoor and rural pursuits. Parties were taken to Switzerland, Scotland and North Wales, and there was a very flourishing scout troop. Visits were organised to places of industry for educational or careers purposes, and many pupils took advantage of school camps organised by the County, or agricultural courses run at Rodbaston College.

At that time there were plenty of employment opportunities in the locality, although it is fair to say that career expectations were not very high. The careers master had the task of interviewing children and providing career literature, as well as preparing reports for the Youth Employment Officer, who was originally based in Tamworth. The Youth Employment Officer saw all potential leavers during each term. The work of the careers master was unpaid and no time, or office space, was provided for the work.

An inaugural meeting of an Evening Institute was held on the 3rd.October, 1958, and about eighteen months later, the Governors proposed the formation of a Youth Club. Both institutions flourish today.

In September each year there was a Dedication Service for the whole school in the Barton Parish Church. After 1974, the Upper and Lower Schools had separate services. From the beginning, the school Carol Service was also sung in the church for anyone who wished to attend, and this practice continues today.

For the whole week beginning the 25th.May, 1962, the school underwent a General Inspection. Five of Her Majesty’s Inspectors came to visit the school. They visited every member of staff and probed into every aspect of school life, but in doing so they were helpful and had constructive remarks to make. Each inspector was an expert in his own field with a great deal of experience. One wonders how the inspectors of Ofsted would compare.

The end of each Summer Term saw the Presentation of Certificates, Shields, Prizes and Cups, with the whole school attending. After 1974 this was changed to an Awards Evening attended only by those receiving awards, their parents, and the staff.

School drama played an active role in the early life of the school, with the first major production being “Lady Precious Stream”. This was very ambitious considering the small size of the school. Many more productions were staged in the ensuing years, far too many to list, and these involved many departments, in addition to English and Art. The Art Department also played a large part in decorating the Hall and the Crush Hall at Christmas time in readiness for the Christmas Fayre and the Carol Service. The Christmas Fayre deserves special mention. It was one of the big occasions when money was raised for school funds and, in order to maximise the number of articles available for sale, there was a class competition to see which class could bring in the most. The winning class in each year had a reward which usually took the form of a film shown in the school hall. This created immense pressures on individual class members and children were virtually compelled to bring in articles for the fair, even when one knew that some parents could ill afford them. The usual method of raising school funds was the “Penny-a Week” scheme whereby each child was asked to contribute. In the early 1970’s, a straight annual subscription to the school fund replaced the Penny-a-Week scheme.

For twenty-three years of its existence the school had to operate under the 11+ exam system where those children that “passed” the exam went to Burton Grammar School and the remainder, the majority, were classed as failures So many personal tragedies resulted from this. Good friends at primary school were split up, often for life. Even members of the same family were divided, with those who had not passed the exam being considered second best.

It was felt that, as far as possible, every child should leave school with some qualification. With this in mind, the County Leaving Certificate was introduced soon after opening. In due course this was replaced by the Union of Educational Institutions ( or U.E.I. ) exam and this had a wider acceptance with employers.

Whilst on the subject of external exams, it is interesting to note that the schools’ groundsmen always chose the first day of the examinations to start cutting the grass, or so it seemed. This made it a little difficult to concentrate.

The General Certificate of Education examination had been in existence since the early 1950’s and the first John Taylor candidate was entered in 1961, when the school was in its fourth year.. Some of those who did pass G.C.E. ‘O’ Levels were later transferred to other schools to take ‘A’ Level courses, and some did very well for themselves. The 14th.December, 1970, was declared a school holiday in order to celebrate the fact that Christopher Allcock was the first student from the school to gain a university place.

It is important to remember that those staying on to a Fifth Year did so voluntarily and the numbers in this age group were very small. By 1964, there were 560 pupils on roll and more were staying on into the 5th. Year. Having reached the age of fifteen, children could leave school at Christmas, Easter or Summer.

At the end of the Christmas Term there was a Seniors’ Christmas Party. This was a very unsophisticated event by modern standards. No modern school -leaver would condescend to play party games, but one must remember that this was the age of innocence, and eleven-year old boys still wore short trousers.

Winter brought its problems. A school rule stated that no snowballing was allowed on the near side of the netting which crossed the middle of the playground. Few members of Staff were brave enough to enforce this. With hundreds of snowballs flying around in all directions, it was virtually impossible to see who had thrown them. The playground was ideal for making slides, given the right kind of snow.

Over the years many variations occurred in the number of teaching periods in a day and the length of their duration. Many experiments were made with the length of the timetable week. There were ten-day timetables, and even eight-day timetables, at various times, but children tended to get confused as to which books to bring to school on particular days. Homework was always regarded as an integral part of school training.

From the start, all the general school stationery and stock was handled by the School Secretary, the Stock Room being situated opposite the Headmaster’s room. The Heads of Departments submitted lists of textbooks, or other equipment, they needed and the Secretary completed the requisition sheets. In most instances these articles arrived safely and were delivered to the correct department. However, there were cases where items of stock, which were destined for one department, were immediately appropriated by another department. In another instance, an overhead projector arrived for a particular department and, instead of informing the head of department of its arrival, the Headmaster decided to hide it in the stock room for the best part of a year. These things are amusing to look back on, but they must have been irritating at the time.

The requisitioning of stock improved greatly in the early 1970’s and this helped to ease the work of the School Secretary. The departments were allocated a fixed sum of money for the year and the head of department could order all the necessary materials within the limits of that budget. As all departments had their own order books, the incoming goods reached their correct destinations.

A school English Competition was introduced in 1964. This required each House to enter children, ( or ask for compulsory volunteers ) for each of the following sections :-

  • Prose Reading. Poetry Reading. Prepared Speeches.
  • Composition. Poetry Writing. Drama.
  • Italic and Ordinary Handwriting.

This kept the House staff busy for weeks, but it was fairly clear that those Houses with specialist English staff had a distinct advantage.

In 1965 the Certificate of Secondary Education ( C.S.E.) came into being and it replaced the U.E.I. exam. This was to have an even wider acceptance from potential employers. It operated for just over twenty years before being merged with G.C.E. “O” Level to form the G.C.S.E..

By 1970 the number of pupils on roll had reached 704. This meant that the number in each School House had reached 176, too many to get into one classroom for an assembly. It was found necessary to split the Houses into Senior and Junior sections and organise separate House assemblies for Friday mornings.

The first headmaster, Mr.H.L.Smallwood, died on the 30th.June, 1970 and, in due course, a memorial service was held in the Parish Church. This was attended by the whole school and the music was provided by the School Band. Mr.Smallwood had been ill for a very long time and Mr.G.T.Morgan had been undertaking the post of Acting Head from Easter,1969. Following Mr.Smallwood’s death, Mr.J.V.Trickett was appointed headmaster. He had been the head of Kings Hill School, Lichfield, but because of that school’s merger with King Edward VI Grammar School, he was left without a school. The Governors felt that an experienced head was needed in the run up to becoming a comprehensive.

The Band featured strongly in the life of the school from the mid-60’s onwards. In August, 1970, it embarked on a very successful visit to Germany, centred on Wiesbaden and the surrounding district. It is recorded that they had large and appreciative audiences, and, as they passed through Bonn, they noticed the celebrations for the 200th. Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Before leaving Barton, they made a brief appearance on television.

Some excitement occurred in February, 1971, with the change over to metric currency. Special circulars had to be sent out to ensure that those requiring school dinners had the correct “new” money on conversion day, but it did not take long to get used to it. Early in 1972, the new canteen had come into use. The children queued, arriving on a Year Rota basis, and the meals were served on a cafeteria system. There was now a choice of dishes on the menu.

The ensuing twelve months were to see a massive upheaval caused by major building works and, by the time all the buildings were completed, the school was ready to begin its life as a comprehensive school, changing its name from “The John Taylor School” to “The John Taylor High School”.

Teaching staff in December 1972 

  • V. Trickett, B.A. (London) (Headmaster)
  • T. Morgan, M.A. (Wales) (DeputyHeadmaster)
  • Mrs. N. M. Lloyd, B.Sc. (Birmingham) (Senior Mistress)
  • N. Stubbs, St. Paul’s, (Cheltenham) (HeadofLower School)
  • K. Adams, D.A.S.E. (Keele)
  • Baker, B.Sc., N.D.A. (Reading)
  • Beaman, I.B.I.C.C. Dip. (Alsager)
  • Belcher, B.A. (Birmingham)
  • G. Biggs, Edge Hill and Saltley.
  • Brown, B.Ed. (London)
  • Mrs. M. Brown, B.Sc. (Nottingham)
  • E. Carey, B.Sc.(Econ.) (London)
  • G. Cubberley, M.A. (Oxon.)
  • Mrs. L. Davies, C. of Dom. Sc., Cardiff
  • Miss A. Giblin, B.Ed. (Nottingham)
  • George, St. Matthias, Bristol
  • Miss C. George, C. of E. Madcley
  • A. Gilbert,
  • of E. Padgate.
  • L. Halliday, N.D.D. (Medway)
  • Holleworth, B.Sc. (London)
  • Mrs. W. M. Horton, Bishop Otter, Chichester
  • Mrs. E. R. Matthews, B.A. (Birmingham)
  • Miss H. McCormac, B.A. (Reading)
  • W. Morgan, B.A. (Wales)
  • Miss L. Pipe, Dip. Phys.Ed. (Anstey)
  • D. Price, B.A. (Wales)
  • Perry, M.A. (Edinburgh)
  • Miss E. Rees, C. of E. Radbrook
  • Mrs. M. C. Setford, Le-s-L (Paris)
  • Mrs. J. Sims, C. of E. Alsager.
  • H. Starmer, Bishop Lonsdale, Derby.
  • Stray, A.F.S.L.A.E.T., H.N.C. (Derby)
  • Sunderland, Phys.Ed.,
  • Madeley C. of E.P. Thompson, B.Ed. (Leeds)
  • R. Titcombe, B.Sc. (Aston)
  • Twigg, Sheffield City C. of E.
  • E. Williamson, B.A., Trinity College, Dublin.
  • Mrs. J. Williamson, Dip.S.S. (Leeds)
  • Miss J. Wilson, Dip.R.E. (Nottingham)
  • A. Wood, Bishop Lonsdale, Derby.
  • Mrs. D. Adams, R.S.A., T.D.
  • Mrs. P. Hancox, R.S.A., T.D.
  • Mrs. P. Morgan, Dip.Ed. (Cardiff)
  • Evans, C. of E., Culham.


  • Mrs.B.M.EIson
  • Mrs.J.Latimer

The inclusion of the word “High” in the school name had more than psychological significance. The school had possessed all the staff necessary to do G.C.E. “A” Level work for some time, but until it became a comprehensive in the September, 1972, it was not allowed to do so. Although the change took place at the beginning of that term, the official ceremony did not take place until December, with the blessing of the Bishop of Lichfield.

Mr.Trickett retired in July,1974, to be followed by Mr.N.W.J.Adams, returning to the school after many years in Cheshire.

Pupil numbers had risen yet again to 1,000 by September, 1974 and the school now had to split into three sections for administrative purposes :-

  • Senior School ( Upper and Lower Sixth ).
  • Middle School ( Years 3, 4 & 5 ).
  • Junior School ( Years 1 & 2 ).

I leave it to the reader to convert this information into modern terminology. Each of the Schools had its own Head, and Heads were appointed to each Year. The term Upper School was sometimes used to denote the combined Senior and Middle Schools.

For the whole of 1974/1975 the old House system and the new method of administration ran side by side, but in July, 1975 the last true House assemblies were held. From September, 1975 the children had to change their allegiances from a family House unit to a rather impersonal Year unit. These changes had become necessary with the increasing size of the school but, from a the point of view of someone who had been involved with the old system, it was sad to see it go. The House names live on, but not in the same way as they used to do.

The 25th.Anniversary of the opening of the of the school was marked by a service in St.James’ Parish Church on the 18th.October, 1982. At the 25th. Anniversary Awards Evening held on the 14th.December, 1982, Mr.John Taylor, the Acting Chief Inspector of the Manchester Education Authority presented the prizes. It had been hoped to have Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls, to perform this task, but he was unable to come. The School’s namesake was also Master of the Rolls.

A Parents’ Association was formed on the 7th.November,1963, but in the latter years the name was altered to a Parent-Teachers’ Association. In an ideal world one would expect most of what a child needed for its education to be provided by the education authority, with the money coming from the county council or from central government, and for most of the school’s history this was the case. However, with less money being available in the last ten years, the Parent Teachers’ Association has played an ever increasing role.

When Mr.Adams retired in July,1988, he was succeeded by Mr.G.P.Gallie, the present headmaster. One of the salient features of the past twelve years has been an enormous increase in the size of the Sixth Form, at present numbering 270, and the growing numbers of students proceeding to universities.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the additional burdens on teachers were beginning to be felt. An enormous amount of educational jargon was being used, to the detriment of plain English, and management courses were the ” in thing “. It seemed that meetings were often being held for their own sake, that too many bits of paper were flying around and that education pundits had lost a clear sense of direction. One had the impression that management was considered to be more important than classroom teaching. I know that the National Curriculum, political interference, and the changing values of society as a whole, have placed tremendous stress on teachers, and it is to their credit that such excellent results have been obtained in such difficult circumstances.

There are few professions which demand such a high degree of responsibility, such a high degree of adaptability, and such a high degree of dedication, as teaching does. It is a profession where hours of work cannot be measured, where one’s evenings are seldom one’s own and where much of the “holidays” is spent preparing work, marking exam papers, or writing reports. A school is as good as its staff and the staff of the John Taylor High School are among the best.

School Staff – 1996-1997



Miss I.Salt

Deputy Head


Deputy Head


Deputy Head

Science Department

Art Department


Miss L.Miller

Miss J.Benson





Miss D.Evans




Miss Y.Cook




Design Technology







Music Department



Miss J.Rose

English Department


History Department











Mrs.H Challenor

Miss L.Murdoch

Geograhy Department




Mathematics Department










Religious Studies




Miss P.Deacon




Special Needs




Physical Education Department




Business Studies




Miss S.Kirkwood



Modern Languages Department





Miss I.Salt


Miss H.McCormac








 1996-1997, Senior staff and other posts of responsibility