Mr Heyes: Memories of Bournemouth School 1985-2016
Mr Heyes is leaving the school this year, as the longest serving member of staff, having joined in 1985. We wish him well for the future.
Whilst it is a long time since I joined the school, it appears to have gone by in a flash. Bournemouth School in 1985 was a very different place. Year group entry was smaller – about 130 students – with a total size fewer than 900. The School had six Houses: Avon, Forest, Hambledon, Portchester, Romsey and Twynham, though at this time it was all about the House competition, with all pastoral work being carried out by the Head and Deputy. Back in ‘85 John Kelsall was the Headmaster, the Deputy Heads were John Hawkins and David Hilliam and most of the staff were male.
An early memory of the staff was John Hawkins, a larger-than-life character and one of those people you feel honoured to have worked with. He was held in high esteem by staff and students. He would know almost every boy and everything about them and hence had the ability to deal with any situation in a calm and sensible manner. He played the Dame in the staff pantomime that we performed at Christmas to the school, as well as being the lead singer on staff socials, with his rendition of the school song supported by the Head of Latin, David Spencer, and the Head of RS, Paul Beardshaw.
The Head of Physics was a gentleman called Ted Reynish, quite a fearsome character, I remember. In my first term he announced to me that moving to Bournemouth School was the end of my career, ‘what did he know?’ I thought, but, as it turned out, he was correct, not that I regret it! Other notable staff would have to include BJ Sanders, Head of CCF and later Head of Newton, and Malcolm Waite, Head of Chemistry and later Head of Darwin. One of those unforgettable characters who joined the school at the same time as me was Dave Gibson, Head of PE. His contribution to raising funds for the Sir David English Centre, supporting the efforts of the Head Allen Petrie, helped provide the excellent facility for the school. It would be hard for me to mention all the staff that impacted on students’ lives during my time here, but I am sure that those who knew him would have loved to have seen John Gibbons’ (History and Politics) reaction to the recent events in the country.
As an establishment it was very much the same then as it is now – we had bright able students who over 7 years developed into well-rounded young men, albeit with a little less assessment along the way! The nature of education in 1985 was very much ‘we will teach you’, but the student who exercised his right to fail academically was perhaps allowed to succeed more easily than today. I think it is worth mentioning, though, that many of our so-called ‘failures’ have gone on to achieve great success, but not perhaps as academics – it is not the only route!
Anyway, what has changed to the building? Carpets through the corridors; buildings at the back of the School that have replaced the HORSA huts and wooden shed-like buildings that used to house Maths, some Science and some Art; the new area for Music next to the old caretaker’s house; offices for the Heads of House and senior staff (the original headmaster’s office was the Finance Office) and some refurbished Science labs. A new reception desk and the odd lick of paint and some double glazed windows. Some rooms have changed use. Room 15 was the Art room, where, when I arrived, Bookbinding had just been taken off the syllabus! (Before that it had been the Dining Room). Room 33 was the Woodwork room, the Physics Prep. room was the Technical Drawing room and the then Metalwork room was behind the junior school on the other side of East Way. Room 8 was boys’ toilets as was the Deli bar, as I remember it. One of the first changes was to build room 34 and move DT into rooms 33, 34, 36 and the now 6th Form common room. This lasted for a few years before the new buildings at the back of the school provided new accommodation.
From a sporting sense, we used to have two pavilions on the school field where boys could change for outside games. However, these had to be pulled down, and at one stage the only changing facility was (what is now) the caretakers’ storeroom, with the caretakers’ office being the PE office. The only indoor sports facility was the Old Gym and the Hall, on occasions, so the building of the sports hall and astro area was a major leap forward.
The most significant change over the past 30 years has been to the staff structure and management, and I would like to give a few examples of how this has occured.
I remember on joining the school that I needed to take a school football team in the mini bus (bench seats down the sides and no seat belts), and needed money for petrol. The system was: you got money from a Quality Street tin in the office via Mr Rand, the bursar for 27 years, and you put the change and the receipt back in the tin; a very simple system based totally on honesty and integrity, but perhaps not robust enough these days!
Another example was soon after I joined the school we had a CCF field day, when the CCF did things with the boys and those not in the CCF spent the day with their form tutor. As a tutor you were expected to organise an activity for the day. My Year 9 form suggested we could cycle to Swanage and I asked if this would be a suitable event. Fine, no problem, have a good time, was the response. So on the day, a group of Year 9 boys and I headed in the general direction of Swanage. No mobile phones, a mental risk assessment, and the hope we would all get back in one piece. The day was a great success but I am not sure it would go ahead so easily now, and quite rightly so, I think.
Throughout my time here the School provided a wealth of opportunity for boys with the Big Band, school productions, CCF activities, scouts, activities day, etc., etc.. Some of the more memorable moments for me over the years have involved school trips and school sports. Highlights would have to include the Year 9 camps in North Devon in the latter part of the summer term and school trips to the Alps, China and America, where students gained so much not just from the activity, but from the social side of learning to be part of a team and to get along with others. Within the Technology Department, entering the Shell Eco Challenge and seeing Chris Muir progress into a career with Williams F1. Perhaps my favourite memories, though, come from school football, from my first cup-winning side with John Dilling, Ben Miles etc. in the late 80s/early 90s to my last team to achieve this in 2013 with Harry Helyar and Joe Duffy etc.. Cold wet Saturday mornings at Poole Grammar and Hardies in Dorchester stand out, along with the mini bus being rocked from side to side, with the team in it asking me what I was going to do after a decisive victory at one of our local schools a number of years ago.
So what has changed? The fabric of the building is a little different. The staff have moved on and been replaced in name and gender. The number of computers has changed A LOT. The students that we take into our school are still bright. However, the interest and care that staff show in the students is still the same. Bournemouth School has been a marvellous place to spend my teaching career and I am sure it will continue to be a great school for many generations to come.
I would like to thank Ian for helping to start up this online version of The Bournemouthian, it is a tremendous effort and has inspired me to look back 30 years and helped me realise that change is not new in education, it is more an on-going process.
A few images: