|Mrs. Dorothy Shaw, Senior Mistress
~ memories from the school timeline 1973 to 1987 ~ the end ~
|With very kind permission from Mrs. Shaw we, Shaw and Mills compiled this
historic memoir and flavour that was Winton High School right to the end.
|The following is a snippet from an earlier email dated 27-11-2013|
|I shall be in touch again. I still haven't written about the death of a school,
portrayed so well by Jeffrey Wilkinson, from the Staff's point of view.
I think some of the 1980's pupils will be interested to know that they were not alone in their deep sadness that Winton had to close.
With kind regards and all good wishes
|The following is, in part, from an email received 24-7-14|
|It was such a difficult time, coupled as it was with the death of our Headmaster. As you so rightly say, there were bitter talks with the Council. Nobody connected with Winton wanted it to go. We were a family school, an important part of a local community. Nothing gave the Staff more satisfaction than when a first year pupil approached them to say " You taught my Mum." Why should these children, OUR children, be sent to what they considered an alien environment? Why should dedicated teaching staff lose their posts in what was virtually a take-over, disguised as a merger? When Mr R M Smith announced the Council's decision, his chilling words were, "Winton is to close." We wanted to fight, but we knew there was nothing we could do. Our school was dying.
Just before the Easter holiday, Mr Pierce-Jones was not feeling very well. I told him he should see his GP as he obviously needed an antibiotic. Ten weeks later, in June, he was dead. It was almost symbolic, the end of the Head, the end of the school. I went to see him shortly before he died and felt very sad when he said that he wondered what the Education Office had in mind for him. They had never told him what his future role might be. He was a good Head, he had great integrity and high standards which commanded respect from Staff and pupils alike. He faced his illness with fortitude and insisted that our last Staff reunion should proceed in his absence. It did, and you have reproduced the photograph to prove it.
Incidentally, I don't quite know why I am the only one seated. I was hardly ancient and decrepit then! I guess it was a mark of respect, just another indication of how we regarded one another.
As far as the Staff were concerned, it was the younger members, eager, ambitious, full of ideas and ideals, for whom I felt most sorry. A few obtained good posts elsewhere; another handful were appointed to equivalent posts in the new combined school , and prospered. For many, though, they were sidelined. Experienced and established Heads of Department became assistant teachers. Our salaries were protected, but not our status. It was easier for those of us who were older and probably more cynical. The Council were glad to offer early retirement to anyone over 50. After enduring a year with the new regime, I seized the opportunity, along with Miss Littler, who had been a mainstay of Winton for so many years. A year after that, Mr R M Smith and others followed suit.
I digress a little here, to give you the family flavour of Winton in our time.The name Smith proliferated, so it was a bit like an established firm of solicitors, with Mr R M, Mr Brian, Mrs Veronica and Mrs Smith, Canteen. Strangely, I never knew the cook's first name, but the mode of address for the others tripped off the tongues of everyone from the Headmaster to the first form pupils. There was a certain formality which seemed to give stability to the school. We always greeted one another in the mornings with a polite " Good morning, Mr Smith. Good morning, Mrs Shaw." After all, children might have been within earshot and it would not have been seemly for them to hear anything else! We took our morning Assemblies very seriously and always wore our academic gowns when we were conducting them. All this stopped on the amalgamation, when there was a completely different ethos.
We were lucky to have had the halcyon days. I still think it was regrettable that the school was closed. It was the ideal size at about 650 pupils , a fact which has been established by educationists since. The Head and I could not only know all the pupils, but usually, something about their backgrounds and families. We had fun, friendship, satisfaction, success, sometimes tragedy. I remember the shock when one of our teachers, a young mother, died unexpectedly, and the tragic deaths of at least two of our children. When Mr Pierce-Jones died, we mourned him like a father.
Just a few small points from the website, as I know you are striving for complete accuracy. I was sorry to read that some pupils considered themselves to be Grammar School failures. This certainly did not apply after the school became Comprehensive, when we catered for all abilities from the academically gifted to those with special educational needs. I know that one 5th Year W class that I taught ALL got straight A's in O level French. No failures there!
When Mr Pierce - Jones took over, we changed from teaching classes in complete mixed ability to streaming them according to their needs. It was Mr R M Smith's idea to use the letters W N T H S ( in that order ) , simply taken from the initials in Winton High School. The children in the S forms needed the extra, specialised tuition supplied so well by Mr Langley and his team of teachers trained in what was then called Remedial Teaching, nowadays known as Special Needs.
From the In Memoriam section, Mr Pierce -Jones's tenure of office obviously ended in 1987, which is also when Mrs Platt died in the September. Mrs Veronica Smith taught RE, not Cookery, as written in this section, although the subject is correct in the Staff list.
Goodness, I HAVE gone on!! Talk about a walk down Memory Lane. I have written this over a period of several days and thought so much about my 15 years at Winton. If you want to use any sentences from this diatribe for the website, please do. I am already planning next year's holidays around the Winton Reunion, when I hope we shall meet in person. As you say, Ernie, time marches on , and I am a little older than you!
I send all my best wishes from Glorious Devon --- it really is at the moment, with a wonderful English summer, I shall be in the sea again this afternoon, though I doubt whether its temperature would suit you, living in Arizona. It's refreshing or icy, depending on how you look at it.
With warmest wishes
|Thank you very much Dorothy for such a concise account of the state of WHS
during that period.
I am indebted to you for opening my eyes. Ernie 53/57