Anda di halaman 1dari 64



Book Title:

Sub Title:


Risinghill Revisited

The Waste Clay

Risinghill Research Group

Isabel Sheridan, Philip
Lord, Lynn Brady, Alan
Foxall and John Bailey

This document provides a synopsis of the book and its contents together with
Chapters B1 and C1.


Synopsis of Risinghill Revisited ................................................................................... 1
Risinghill Research Group - Curricula Vitae ............................................................ 6
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................ 11
Chapter Summaries ........................................................................................................ 13
Chapter B1 The Headmaster: Michael Duane ..................................................... 28
Chapter C1 The Development of State Education ............................................. 48

Synopsis of Risinghill Revisited
When Risinghill, a new purpose built co-educational comprehensive school,
opened in Islington, North London on 3 May 1960, no one could have
imagined that it would be closed just five years later, among extraordinary
press interest, and that a book chronicling its demise would make publishing
history by becoming the first non-fiction book in the UK to become a bestseller. Risinghill: death of a Comprehensive School (1968) catapulted the
author, Leila Berg, to fame along with Risinghills progressive headmaster,
Michael Duane. Bergs book was hugely contentious, and is still being talked
about in educational circles today.
The various aspects of this cause clbre, including Duanes progressive
approach to education, have, over the years, been mulled over thoroughly by
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 1 of 64

the educational community with one of its members (Brearley) declaring in the
British Journal of Educational Studies (1968) that the truth of the Risinghill
affair was probably too complex to ever be established satisfactorily: an
observation that, until now, has proven to be the case. Risinghill Revisited
(RR) lifts the lid on what really happened at the school and why. For the first
time, it includes the voices of the Risinghill pupils. Described at the time as
the waste clay of an educational experiment that had gone horribly wrong,
their contribution to the debates about the school (and thereby the wider
debate(s) about progressive education synonymous with the comprehensive) is
a valuable one, adding another (political) dimension to the Risinghill story that
had been largely ignored.
New material is presented, obtained from: Duanes widow, Margaret Duane,
and Leila Berg before their recent deaths; various archives holding documents
not available to Berg when she was researching her book; and a detailed survey
with the pupils, also some of the former staff of the school.
This is a story of deceit and obfuscation, of authoritarian and arrogant attitudes
to children, parents, and teachers and of the politics of an education system that
was (and still is) seriously flawed.
Rationale for the book
To correct the misconceptions about: Michael Duane, the Risinghill children
(and by implication the stereotyping of the working-class), and the school
itself, specifically in terms of its designation. Risinghill was one of several,
new comprehensives that were built in fulfilment of the London School Plan
1947; the aim of which was to narrow the educational gap between the elite
grammar schools and the secondary modern schools catering for the vast
majority of children. Risinghill, however, was officially named Risinghill
Secondary Modern School albeit that it was never referred to as such. This
anomaly is examined in the context of the thorny issue of selection, the politics
of the grammar and the powers of officials. Last but not least, it raises the
question: Was Risinghill an attempt to bring progressive education into the
state sector?
Primary market
Educationalists interested in: (1) the history of secondary schooling and
progressive education, specifically in relation to the comprehensive; (2)
educational policy, planning and politics; (3) progressive education; and (4) the
history of Corporal Punishment (CP) in schools. Although RR is essentially an
academic book, it is not written in a conventional academic style. We make no
apologies for this as we did not set out to write an academic book. To the
contrary, we wanted to write something that was accessible, and that would
appeal to the public at large. Risinghill Revisited does, for example, tell a

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 2 of 64

human story - one that will resonate with todays teachers, teachers of teachers
and their students, and, equally important, the consumers of education (parents
and young people) who tend to be forgotten in the debates about education.
There will also be a (small) market of former Risinghill pupils and teachers.
International focus
Risinghill School was renowned, and was very popular with visitors from
abroad, notably educationalists from the USA and Israel. In fact Duane visited
the States (on invitation) to talk about his work at Risinghill shortly after the
school closed, and had many other international contacts and engagements.
Now occupied by Elizabeth Garret Anderson School (EGA), the school seems
to be of as much interest internationally as it was 50 years ago. In May 2011,
for example, the EGA pupils were given the surprise of their lives when
Americas First Lady, Michelle Obama, paid the school an impromptu visit
specifically to tell its pupils that she and they had much in common: that she
had not been raised with wealth or resources of any social standing and if she
could achieve in life, so could they. Duane had delivered the same, powerful
messages of self-belief to us a lifetime ago.
Professor Shin-ichiro Hori in Japan, an admirer of Duanes and A S Neills
work, has expressed interest in this book. Hori has set up a number of Kinokuni
Childrens Village Schools (free schools in the real sense) in Japan, and is
involved with the Kilquhanity Childrens Village in Castle Douglas, Scotland.
Therefore there is likely to be an international market for the book, particularly
in the States and in Japan.
Needs fulfilled
Provides a viewpoint from former pupils and teachers; an analysis of what
ordinary pupils have achieved from an ordinary (if notorious) school; what the
pupils thought about their education, and the education system that is in place
today. The book also examines more widely the perceived failure of the
comprehensive, exposes political agendas and the flagrant abuse of power
resulting in this case in the loss of a first-class career, Duanes. Above all RR
exposes the hypocrisy of a system that is based on class, not science, and in
which every child is supposed to matter.
Research focus
Primary research: This book is research based albeit not from a conventional
academic setting. It is based on: extensive, archival research; surveys of, and
communications from, some 100 ex-pupils and teachers; and from interviews
with those intimately involved notably Leila Berg and Duanes widow (both
now sadly deceased.). The research was aimed at trying to determine the true
nature of the school and the reasons for its closure.
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 3 of 64

Competition and parallel texts

As far as we know there is no direct competition for this book. Much of the
argument of the Bergs Penguin Special of 1968 is presented, but Bergs book
has been out of print for many years, and with the passage of time, we have
been able to draw on wider archival and other resources to extend the scope.
What is the intended audience currently reading is an interesting question one
guess is that, where the academic community is concerned, it is reading
literature commenting on, or criticising, the changes to education brought in by
the last Labour Government and the current Conservative Liberal coalition.
However, because RR is not a conventional academic book, it is likely to
appeal to those who have an interest in: (1) educational experimentation; (2)
issues of dealing with behaviour of the young and the treatment of them; and
(3) the education of the academically less able. More generally, it has the
potential to appeal to ordinary people interested in education and in the
Risinghill story itself.
Evidence: (1) Our extensive searches and reading of the literature on Risinghill
and Michael Duane. (2) Enthusiastic support for the book from senior
educational academics at the Institute of Education (this book must be
published) and others.
Unique selling points
(1) Is written from the perspective of the pupils, who, until now, have not had a
say in any of the debates about Risinghill or Bergs book. More generally the
considered views of pupils after their schooling are overlooked in the literature
on education; more objective measures being preferred (such as measures of
academic success.).
(2) Although RR is essentially an academic book, it has the potential to appeal
to the public at large in much the same way that Bergs book did; this being a
human story with a conspiracy attached.
(3) Is, in many ways, a sequel to Bergs best seller Risinghill: Death of a
Comprehensive School (1968). Bergs book, despite its success, was never
seriously challenged or supported by subsequent publications (leaving aside
contemporary press articles and a few, short, academic articles), leaving scope
for speculation and the creation of myths both favourable to and against the
school to go unexamined. This book fills that gap.
(4) It contains a dedicatory piece by Berg (The Next Room), which contains
moving recollections of the time and a passionate defence of Duane.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 4 of 64

(5) It brings together many threads concerning: comprehensive education;

progressive/libertarian education; schools administration; and governance in
one famous case example.
The following are suggested:
Risinghill, Michael Duane, Corporal Punishment, Comprehensive Schools, 11+
examination, Educational Politics, London, Survey, Questionnaire, Educational
History, Grammar Schools, Working-Class, Poor, Deprived, Conspiracy,
Hypocrisy, Non-academic child.
See Addendum 1 below.
Chapter summaries

See Addendum 2 below.

Not applicable this book is a multiple-author monograph, not a collection of
individual contributions.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 5 of 64

Illustrations, etc
The book will contain quite a few tables and graphs, particularly those chapters
reporting on the surveys of former pupils and teachers. We do not yet have a
definitive number - but possibly in the order of 20-30. Currently these are
produced in Excel and may be good enough for direct replication. We would
like to include some photographs of the principle actors and of the school, also
some press cuttings at the time of the closure, as these would increase the
appeal and utility of the book.

Risinghill Research Group - Curricula Vitae

With the exception of John Bailey, creator of the Risinghill Research Groups
website, the authors and contributors to the book are all former pupils of
Risinghill. The main authors of the text are Isabel Sheridan (lead author),
Philip Lord (co-author), and Lynn Brady with Alan Foxall assisting with
research and the design, administration and analysis of the surveys with the
pupils and the teachers.
None of us is attached to an institution for educational research or teacher
training, but we see this independence as a positive advantage to books
contributing to educational debate. Brief CVs follow:
Isabel Sheridan
Qualifications: Left school with GCE O levels and commercial qualifications
from the RSA, later supplemented at the North London Day
College. Never went on to gain any higher-level

Secretarial positions, leading to senior administrative and PA

positions at director level, and then office management later in

Current work: Retired, but occupied with the writing of RR and its research.

Set up and managed (with daughter) a netball club for young

players aged 11 to 16 from which one player was selected into
the U16s national squad, and is now captain of Englands
senior squad. The club started in 2002 and amalgamated with a
larger netball club in 2006. Left in 2005 to focus on RR.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 6 of 64

Philip Lord
Qualifications: BSc (Mathematics), MSc (Mathematics), Postgraduate
Certificate in Education (PGCE)

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)


Teaching, mathematics (London Borough of Hornsey, 196768)

Bio-mathematician (Medical Research Council, 19681978)
Electronic Publishing Consultant (Elsevier Science
Publishers, 1979 1989)
Project Manager (GlaxoSmithKline, 1990- 2002)
Archiving Consultant (DAC, own business, 2002-present)


Numerous academic research papers while at the MRC on

epidemiology, lung morphology and automation of
physiological measurements. List available on request.
As independent consultant: Influential reports on digital
information management and archiving for British
Government departments and agencies (including the British
Library, and National Archives), Research Councils, European
Union, and the Government of the UAE, and cultural
institutions (e.g. Tate Gallery). List available on request. Also
reports on information management and governance for private

Current work: Semi-retired; part time lecturer at the University of Dundee for
the MSc/MLitt in archival and records management studies.
Retains a directorship in the Digital Archiving Consultancy.

Leader of an Adventure Playground, Reading, 1967 and 1968

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 7 of 64

Lynn Brady
Qualifications: BA (Social Sciences, 1st Class Honours), PhD (Social Care,
Brunel University)

Personal Assistant to the Managing Director in a publishing



Specialist Foster Care for Traumatised Young People with

Challenging Behaviour: Appraising Joined Up Service Provision

Report: Where's my Advocate' for the Office of the Children's

Commissioners office, (2011). Available at
Current work: Senior Learning Consultant and Freelance Advocate for Coram
Voice, one of the oldest childrens charities.

Alan Foxall
Qualifications: Chartered Engineer. Primarily an Electrical Power Engineer
specialising in High Voltage systems. In addition, is an
experienced Illumination Engineering and Control System

Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Technology


Has worked over the last 48 years in various industries

including Petrochemical, Pharmaceutical, Food (Sugar),
Automobile (Ford), Utilities (Electricity), Manufacturing
(Transformers / Rectifiers) and currently in the Construction

Current work: Electrical Engineer, Crossrail.


As an ex-pupil of both the original Risinghill primary school

and Risinghill Comprehensive through its entire life, brings
unique experience to the authorship team.
Activities with children include time as a Venture Scout leader.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 8 of 64

John Bailey
Qualifications: City and Guilds Intermediate and Final Certificate in

Joined the Post Office in 1962 and finished as a BT Manager

of UK Access Wideband Recording and Planning Policy.
Took early retirement in 1996.
Records and Standards Manager TeleCity Limited. (19992001)
Contractor - Various telecommunications projects. (2002 2003)
Managing Director of Lidan UK Limited (Specialist Consultancy in
Optical Fibre Networks, Civil Engineering and Network Records.)

(2005 - 2014)
Current Status: Retired.

Website development, including the development and

maintenance of the Risinghill Research Group website. The
restoration of 1950s/1960s Vespa and Lambretta scooters.

Sample materials
We have attached chapters B1 and C1 in Addendum 3.
Length of Typescript
Not known yet with precision, but the current text is ca. 120,000 from a quick
estimate. If necessary we believe there is ample scope to reduce this (but
possibly at the cost of reducing the immediacy of the story).
When ready?
Estimated June/July 2015

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 9 of 64

A number of referees are possible in mainstream educational academia:
Two, possibly three from the Institute of Education, London
Among those working in the area of progressive education:
Prof Shinichiro Hori, Kinokuni Children's Village, Japan
One from the Libertarian Education organisation, UK
Sheila Hancock, the actress, has shown a keen interest in the book. Her latest
novel, Miss Carters War, features Risinghill and she would make an excellent
reviewer/referee from an independent standpoint. Please note, however, that
we have not asked her (or indeed anyone else as yet) with regard to assuming
this role.
Other publishers
Other than one, tentative enquiry, to which we are awaiting a response, we
have not approached any other publishers at this stage.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 10 of 64

Table of Contents

List of Contents
Key People
Editorial Notes
The authors experiences and engagement with Risinghill
The Headmaster, Michael Duane
Michael Duane and Corporal Punishment
Leila Berg and Death of a Comprehensive School
The Educational Hierarchy

The Development of State Education
Changing Education 1944+
London Education Post-war
Birth of a Comprehensive School 1959-60
Settling Down - 1960-61
Race and Sex 1961 - 62
Visitations and Nativities: 1961 - 62
Consultation, 1964 65
Death of the School


The Teachers

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 11 of 64


Who were the Risinghill children and their families? Perceptions

of supposed deprivation
The childrens perceptions of themselves and of the school and its
The children now, in later life


Education after Risinghill
Michael Duane after Risinghill
Last Words The Next Room by Leila Berg (1917-2012)
Visit by Mr Munday, Ministry of Education H.M.I., on 12 and 13
July, 1961
Extracts from Report on Visitation of Risinghill School Held on
29th, 30th, 31st January and 1st February 1962 by LCC
Extracts from Commentary on Report of Inspection of
Risinghill School 29th January 1st February 1962 by Duane
Others, including the Parent Teacher Associations appeal to the
Secretary of State

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 12 of 64

Chapter Summaries

The voices of the Risinghill children may have gone unheard if two of them,
Isabel Sheridan and Lynn Brady, had not kept in touch. It is nearly ten years
since they met again after many years and started to talk about their old
school and Bergs book; a discussion which led to them revisiting the
Risinghill story from the perspective of the pupils, and with the perspective of
passed time. A small team was put together to form the Risinghill Research
Group; key players in the drama, notably Leila Berg and Michael Duanes
widow, Margaret Duane, were contacted; other ex-pupils and former staff were
reached; and through public archives and private documentation made
available to the Group the story could be retold.
Risinghill Revisited is a complex story, leading to a structure of five parts, A to
E, each comprising a varying number of chapters, following through different
themes. A few chapters have addenda and some critical documents are
reproduced as appendices. There is the usual front matter (including a Preface)
and back matter to assist the reader.

This Part comprises two chapters (A1, A2), bringing into focus for those not
familiar with the history of the 1960s the political, social and educational
environment in which Risinghill School was born and died. Secondly, we
introduce ourselves and explain our motivations for involving ourselves in RR.
Chapter A1 provides background information for those unfamiliar with the
Risinghill story and the events of 50 years ago. It also helps to make RRs
interweaving threads (of which there are several) more comprehensible. The
main players in the drama are introduced here so that they may be placed in
context in the subsequent chapters.
Chapter A2 records the reminiscences of each of the authors contributing to
this book, describing how they have fared in life, and their motives for
updating the Risinghill story. It also describes the genesis of this book in a
chance conversation between Lynn Brady and Isabel Sheridan. These
statements can be read as supplementing the research undertaken with their
fellow pupils in Part D.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 13 of 64


A few individuals were central to the Risinghill story: Michael Duane; Leila
Berg; and various officials in the educational hierarchy of the early 1960s.
This short section introduces: (1) Duane and his attitude to CP in schools; (2)
the issue of CP from a social and political perspective; and (3) Leila Berg,
Risinghills contemporary commentator. The organisation of education in
England, and in particular the organisation of its delivery (known at the time as
a national system, locally administered) is also discussed for the benefit of
those unfamiliar with it. This describes, succinctly, the organisational context
in which Risinghill was expected to operate, and the pressures placed upon it as
a result. Here the major players within the delivery hierarchy are also
Part B is divided into four chapters (B1 B4).
Chapter B1 provides a biography of Duane up to the point of him becoming
the headmaster of Risinghill. The story begins with his birth in Dublin in 1915
to working class parents, the circumstances of his fathers death in the Irish
Troubles of that time, and the difficulties of his early years when he was
fostered in Ireland, then in London as a result of his mothers inability to
support him. The next part of the story deals with his schooling in London
where he was trained for the Catholic priesthood, and after rejection for this,
his tertiary education and training as a teacher before joining the Royal
Armoured Corps soon after the outbreak of war in 1941. His war record is
impressive. He was decorated twice and was promoted on the battlefront to the
rank of major, not that he used the title in civilian life. His involvement in the
D-Day landings and the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp
affected him deeply, as can be seen from two of his unpublished poems that are
included here.
On his return to civilian life, he picked up on where he had left off teaching at
Dame Alice Owens Grammar School in Islington, north London. From there he
went to the Institute of Education (IOE) where he took up a teacher training
position under the guidance of Sir John Newsom, the respected author of the
1963 Half our Future report. Next came two headships at Howe Dell
Secondary School in Hertfordshire and Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys
School in Lowestoft respectively. The Howe Dell headship was a difficult one
from which he was forced to resign - on account of political pressures linked to
his refusal to use CP, and his progressive approach to education. His
resignation from Alderman Woodrow in 1959 (to take on the Risinghill
headship) was amicable. In these two headships we note the maturing of his
views on child-centred education and his approach to CP, which attracted
criticism from both the political right and the left all presaging themes from
his headship of Risinghill.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 14 of 64

Chapter B2 looks at the issue of CP in schools - a major factor in the

difficulties Duane faced with his employers, who appeared to use his refusal to
use CP as a lever to oppose other elements of his policies. Here we examine in
more detail Duanes attitude towards the practice, but before doing so review
the history of CP in schools and other institutions as a means of control.
In England CP was abolished in schools in 1999 whereas many other European
countries had outlawed it long before, as early as 1783 in Poland. Holland and
France followed in 1850 and 1887 respectively with most others abandoning
the practice soon after. This chapter documents: (1) the slow progress made by
England towards the abolition of CP; (2) the inconsistencies between the public
and private policies of the LCC in this regard; (3) how the issue was used by
some of the LCC officials to beat (metaphorically) Duane; and (4) his reactions
to this. The chapter ends with a description of the public reaction by said
officials to the revelations made in Bergs book on this aspect of Duanes
demise, and the closure of Risinghill in general.
Chapter B3 introduces Leila Berg, covering briefly: her pre-war political
involvement; her early work in left-wing journalism; and her transition to
childrens author after the birth of her two children. Bergs fictional characters
were often placed in situations and/or environments which working-class
children could relate to, making her books very popular. Her later honours for
this work are described here too. In 1965 she became involved in the campaign
to prevent the closure of Risinghill, and three years later she published
Risinghill: death of a Comprehensive School that became a best seller. The
chapter concludes with a description of the authors meeting with Berg while
researching this book, in which she (Berg) records: her memories of Duane;
the school; and the publication, success and reception of her book. A powerful
piece Berg provided to us, originally intended as an introduction to RR, is
provided in Part E as a last word.
Chapter B4 provides a description of the educational management structures at
the time, and the various roles and responsibilities of administrative bodies. It
also notes the interaction, relationship and tensions between the parts: Central
Government, represented by the Minister of Education and the Ministry
Inspectorate; the relevant Local Authorities - in Risinghills case the London
County Council (LCC) - represented by the Education Committee and its subcommittees; and the Chief Education Officer (CEO) along with some of his
senior subordinates, also the local Inspectorate. Significant personnel for
Risinghill within the Education Department of the LCC are introduced (Messrs
H, B, P, M and C) here. The change of Local Government structures to
London, brought about by the Conservative administrations in the 1950s and
1960s, abolishing the LCC and introducing the Greater London Council (GLC)
and its educational arm for central London, ILEA (Inner London Education
Authority) is also described in this chapter. Further down the hierarchy, we
outline: (1) the roles of the London boroughs and their councillors; and (2) the

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 15 of 64

schools Advisory Committee (AC) and its successor the Governing Body
(GB). A few other significant individuals are introduced, such as Sir John
Newsom, a supporter of Duane and author of the important report on the
education of less academic children Half our Future (1963). In B4 we also
draw attention (briefly) to the stratification of secondary education in England,
where, in broad terms, children were and still are segregated, first by class
(with the continuance of private schools), then by academic ability (with the
11+ creaming off of the top 20% into grammar schools) and the remainder
(representing the vast majority) to secondary modern schools, under which
there are now a plethora of schools sitting under the secondary modern-cumcomprehensive umbrella.


This is a chronological retelling of the story of Risinghill told with the benefit
of: (1) hindsight; (2) further documentary evidence not available to Berg at the
time she wrote her book; (3) the benefit of interviews with Duanes widow and
with Berg; and (4) contributions from participants who have hitherto been
silent, notably the pupils. It is a story about the education of the working-class,
and the administrative and political subversion of a well respected, improving
school that was serving all of its pupils and the locality well. At the heart of
this tale is Michael Duane, a progressive head who was devoted to his pupils
and fought hard to keep his school open. Part C comprises 12 chapters.
The story starts in Chapter C1 with a brief definition of a comprehensive
school, noting that in general, and certainly for Risinghill, it was compromised
in its original intention of providing education across all ability ranges by the
creaming off of the most able students to the grammar. The history of state
education in England is then reviewed, with a focus on the education of the
working classes, culminating in the 1944 Education Act and the rise of the
comprehensive model, and in London the comprehensive ideal enshrined in the
London School Plan 1947, a plan which advocated a single secondary school to
include all abilities, including the grammar level. The chapter ends with a
discussion of the administrative/delivery system (described at the time as a
national system, locally administered) and its implications for Risinghill.
Chapter C2 reviews the post war developments in education, including: (1) the
Tripartite system of grammar, technical and secondary modern schools, and the
11+ examination; (2) the rise of the comprehensive, which was partly driven by
parental dissatisfaction with the 11+; and (3) the London School Plan 1947 and
the introduction of Londons first comprehensives. This chapter also reviews:
the lack of opportunities for those in secondary schools to take key
examinations, such as the General Certificate of Education O and A Levels;
the lack of curriculum guidelines for the new secondary modern and
comprehensive schools (and therefore confusion about what these new schools
were meant to deliver); and lastly the effects of post-war immigration on inner-

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 16 of 64

city schools, which exacerbated the problem(s) many schools were facing in
specific areas of the capital.
Chapter C3 continues by examining the political changes in the 1950s when
the Conservatives took over government from Labour. This was when the fight
to retain the grammar began in earnest, and when the comprehensive ideal
began to come under attack as a result. However, despite the political infighting, comprehensives were introduced - nationally and in London but few
really conformed to the original idea of a single secondary school for the full
range of abilities as the integration of the grammar into the comprehensive was
not achieved universally, and certainly not in London. In fact very few
grammars agreed to amalgamation, and in this respect the new comprehensive
schools were fatally flawed. Strangely, contemporary criticisms of the
comprehensives were not directed at this systemic problem, rather at the
resulting manifestations flowing from the problem (noting, in passing, this
error still persists today.).
Another bone of contention for the Conservatives was the Labour-controlled
LCC, a powerful body that the Conservatives were determined to get rid of. Its
replacement with the Greater London Council (GLC) is discussed here in the
context of the politics of the comprehensive leading up to the closure of
The London School Plan 1947 shows Risinghill as a new, purpose-built 13form entry secondary school for 1,500 pupils (2,000 once fully comprehensive)
with only two schools (Gifford Secondary School for Boys and Girls and
Ritchie Secondary School for Girls) identified as transferring to it. We can
presume expansion to 2000 pupils was subject to the identification of a suitable
grammar school to join it. This did not happen. Owens Grammar in Islington
was the obvious choice; however, Owens remained separate, and two technical
schools (Northampton Technical School for Boys and Bloomsbury Technical
School for Girls) were chosen to join Risinghill instead. An Advisory
Committee (AC) was established, containing some well-known names, notably
John Newsom. There were differences of opinion between the AC and the CEO
in relation to the development of Risinghill; differences that affected the school
Chapter C4 reviews: the late gestation, birth and infancy of Risinghill;
Duanes relationship with the LCC officials; the school itself; the children and
teachers; highlights of the schools organisation and policies; and the schools
GB which replaced the AC, once the school was established.
Duanes appointment started in February 1959. He was given facilities at
Gifford School in which to prepare for Risinghill, but was also asked (by
certain officials reporting to the CEO) to run Gifford at the same time. The AC
had not mentioned a concurrent headship during the appointment process, nor
did this form any part of Duanes contract of employment. Therefore he was
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 17 of 64

free to decline the secondment, which he did on the basis that he wanted to
focus on developing Risinghill. This marked the beginning of tensions between
him and some of the LCC officials, who appeared to disapprove of his
educational ideas, methods, and indeed his very appointment. Those sitting on
the AC, however, supported Duanes policies fully.
The school opened on 3 May 1960 with very little of the publicity expected for
a school of this kind, something that is examined in the context of the suspicion
of the school being destined for early closure before it had even started. For
those children who were due to leave school in the summer to start work, there
was no incentive to mix and make friends with the other pupils and, in some
cases, to behave or even attend lessons. The repercussions (mainly fights
between the boys) are discussed here, as are the problems associated with the
scattered nature of the site (children getting lost en route to lessons in
consequence and/or finding it easier to truant), and building defects on account
of cost savings of around 36,000. The organisation of the school (into houses
and tutor groups) and the integration of the pupils and teachers are also
described, as are the pedagogic difficulties caused by a shortage of staff, a
grossly disproportionate number of children in the lower ability groups, and the
replacement of the AC with a GB unsympathetic to Duanes policies. In
addition, the removal of CP and the introduction of a school council are
Chapter C5 begins by describing the settling down of Risinghill by the end of
1960 where there was a marked reduction in the fighting between the rival
factions; the older boys, who caused most of the trouble, having left at the end
of the summer term to start work. The forming of a corporate identity was
also beginning to assert itself, as evidenced in the school sports teams. Much
of the credit for this was attributable to the School Council; however it was
beginning to suffer from the apathy of the staff towards it mirroring a
phenomenon reported in a recent NSPCC survey. The school also had a new
intake of 286 first year pupils in the September, but this conformed to a pattern
which persisted throughout the schools life in being heavily skewed towards
the lower ability range (ca. 35% in the lowest ability, only ca. 2% in the highest
ability - the desirable norm being 20% for each of the five ability bands).
Despite the problems, 403 parents made Risinghill their first choice of school
so the rejects constituted quite a high proportion. We do not know if and
how these rejects differed in profile from those accepted, which leads to a
discussion and analysis of: (1) the evidence for claims made by the LCC for
closing the school on the basis that it had become unpopular; and (2) the
provision of a better distribution of first year pupils in the higher ability range
for Starcross, the school which replaced Risinghill. Further uncertainties (and
changes) viz. the anticipated size of the school roll and the number of forms at
entry are also discussed in this and the ensuing chapters. Last but not least, the
school had a thriving Parent Teacher Association (PTA) that supported

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 18 of 64

Duanes policies. This was another unusual feature of schools in the early
1960s as there were very few active PTAs then.
Chapter C6 charts the schools progress during 1961 1962. Duanes nonconfrontational way of resolving some of the issues, such as truancy and
bullying, are illustrated here by the stories of two former pupils. Of note were
the increasing successes in the GCE and RSA examinations. As the school
blossomed, links were being forged with the immigrant communities (in
particular the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities), which helped in the
easing of racial tensions. Although CP had been banned, it was still
administered by some teachers a serious attack by one master on a boy
occurred, and despite a non-caning public policy by the LCC, Duane received
no support from the CEO or any of his officers.
An informal visit by a Ministry of Education inspector resulted in a very
complimentary verbal report to Duane, which is cited here. The only
significant event to have ruffled the feathers of some was an impromptu sex
education lesson by Duane to a group of boys who were about to leave school.
Duane, in typical fashion, was clear and explicit in answering all of the
questions put to him. Due to its success, Duane produced a report for his staff
(with a view to introducing sex education lessons formally). In this he was
supported by the teachers, the PTA and even the Family Planning Association
who went on to used the report anonymously. Everyone was supportive bar the
CEO and his officers, who would later berate Duane for creating a bad image
for the school. During this period there were early signs of the problems to
follow: changes to the GB, which removed those who supported Duanes
policies; and the first signs of the school being run down (the closure of a
whole department, and the reduction of other facilities) barely 18 months after
it had opened.
Finally a review of the London School Plan 1947 by the CEO resulted in the
grammarisation of the comprehensive, marking the beginning of the end of
Risinghill and, arguably, the end for Duane who was appointed on a remit that
ran counter to this.
Chapter C7 describes a surprise visitation by the local Inspectorate in January
1962, and the sequel to that. Twenty inspectors descended on the school to
carry out what was, in effect, a full-scale inspection during which no
pleasantries were exchanged with the staff, and where no immediate feedback
was provided to Duane. This was a very different visit to that undertaken by the
Ministrys inspector six months earlier. The LCCs examination was in great
detail; even the caretaker was interviewed (we know from personal contacts
that his views were misrepresented in the unofficial report which followed.).
The contrast between the reports of the LCC and the Ministry of Education are
noted here. Where the latter had been positive and supportive, the former was
very negative, criticising Duane, and separating him from his staff. Duane

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 19 of 64

received a copy of this report, which ran to 32 pages, just days before being
summoned to County Hall where he was berated and ordered to bring back CP,
something he refused to do. Duanes detailed response to the CEO, which he
never received a reply to, is reproduced here as an appendix. Months later
another, smaller visitation from the LCC inspectors resulted in a glowing report
amusing the staff who were not doing anything different. We looked for any
cause that might have triggered this inspection, but did not find one. The only
thing of note was that, along with other schools in London, Risinghill had
participated in a LCC-endorsed survey conducted by the IOE into race relations
in schools. Three Jewish Communist members of the schools teaching staff
objected to the IOE researcher being Lebanese, causing friction with the other
six Communist members of staff and this, in turn, spilled over to other staff
members. Inexplicably, when the issue came to the attention of the LCC, it
sided with the three Jewish Communists. Duane was ordered to stop the survey
immediately. However the year (1962) ended with two high points a rousing
prize giving and a splendid nativity play.
Chapter C8 looks at the events of 1963, a period of relative calm before the
inevitable storm. The number of O Level GCE passes increased, and the
school had its first A Level successes. Nationally, and even internationally,
the school was attracting the attention of educationalists, evinced by the
complimentary comments of visitors. From the Ministrys viewpoint,
Risinghill continued to impress - as shown by the statements of its officers.
Though increasingly successful academically - for those designated more able,
and even for some less able - Duane did not see academic success as the sole
measure, believing that all children, irrespective of background and/or native
ability, should be developed and esteemed as equally important. Ironically,
Michelle Obama was to preach much the same message in 2011 from the same
pulpit in which Duane had once stood. Undercurrents in this period support
Bergs suspicion that the planning (or plotting) of the schools closure had long
predated 1965.
Duanes reputation was spreading, and he was receiving many invitations to
speak on child-related topics, even at the House of Commons to MPs.
However, the net was closing on the comprehensive - as evidenced by the
divisions in the Labour Party on the amalgamation of the grammar. At its 1963
conference, Labour adopted the policy of removing the 11+, squaring the
internal dilemma by promoting the comprehensive as delivering a grammar
school education for all, which contained its own contradictions. Meanwhile
Duane continued with his work, but his inclusive methods ran counter to the
opinions of the CEO and his subordinates who favoured the grammar school
model. At the end of the year Risinghill lost eight experienced teachers due to
retirement and promotions to other jobs in other schools, but were not replaced
another blow on top of existing staff shortages.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 20 of 64

Chapter C9 witnesses the first public attack on Risinghill by a Conservative

Alderman sitting on the main board of the LCC. This was in the run up to the
GLC elections. At a full Council meeting, he used an out of context quotation
from an article in Punch magazine about Duanes inclusive methods,
focussing on his removal of CP. Unfortunately for the Alderman, his plan to
discredit the school (and with it the comprehensive) misfired as the press
homed in on the remarkable reduction in children on probation at the school
since it opened (from 97 to just 9 in four years) with Duane emerging from this
episode as a hero. Incidents like this gave the school publicity, but also exposed
the inner-city comprehensive for what it had always been - a large secondary
modern school, built large, with all the attendant problems of truancy, and poor
examination results compared to the grammar. In short, it was a far cry from
the grammar school image that was being cultivated by the politicians, and in
todays parlance Duane was off message.
In June 1964, the school was subject to yet another inspection by the local
Inspectorate; the reasons for which are unclear. This time the conducting
inspector was a Mr C, whom Duane had crossed swords with over the Gifford
headmastership affair. Suffice to say this visitation (the third from the LCC in
so many years) did not go well, mirroring the first LCC visitation where Duane
was found to not carry his staff with him. Verbal feedback (or to be more
precise, a tongue lashing) was given on this occasion with Duane later
describing this meeting as one of the worst experiences of his teaching career.
Once again he was summoned to County Hall to discuss the results (without
the benefit of seeing the inspectors report) where he was told that he had failed
to establish the right image for Risinghill, and that there was to be a drastic
reorganisation (unspecified).
By the autumn of 1964, however, the
reorganisation was now being proposed for reasons that, according to the
officials, had nothing to do with Duane whatsoever: namely that a girls
secondary school, Starcross, was occupying space (on a temporary basis) in
Kingsway College, and because Kingsway was expanding, Starcross had to
move out. With parents (allegedly) now preferring single sex education, and
with Risinghills school roll falling (though there is a suspicion that this was, in
part, engineered by the CEO and his officers), it was decided that Risinghill
should close, and that Starcross should take over its premises.
Chapter C10 examines the obligatory period of consultation before Risinghill
could be closed, and the relevant parts of the 1944 Education Act, namely
Section 68 (the rights of parents to appeal to the Secretary of State) and Section
76 (on parental choice of education) and how weakly the latter applied in the
case of Risinghill, and more generally. The LCCs consultation process with
the parties involved is reviewed here. This included consultations with: the
Risinghill and Starcross teachers; the heads of Starcross and Kingsway
College, but significantly not with Duane; the GBs of Risinghill and Starcross;
and the parents of the children at Risinghill and Starcross (the former of which
were treated with arrogance and disdain. All of the parties consulted were

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 21 of 64

opposed to the proposals, except the individual least affected - the head of
Kingsway, who was neutral but their objections were ignored. Clearly from
what the LCC officials wrote and said at the time they thought their decision
was final a fait accompli no less. The GBs of the two schools were informed
and agreed (reluctantly) to the proposals, but in the case of Risinghill there
seems to have been some curious features to the process. Moreover, no
consultations were attempted with the wider community and their elected
representatives sitting on the Education Committee. During this period, large
sums of money were promised to Starcross to refurbish the Risinghill premises
whereas over the previous five years Duanes requests for funds for urgent
repairs were refused on the basis of there being no money available in the
budget. This chapter also discusses further the dubious issue of Risinghills
falling roll, and the falling secondary school population in London generally.
Chapter C11 describes the period from the end of the consultation to the
schools closure in July 1965. Here the LCCs submission to the then Secretary
of State for Education, Anthony Crosland, is examined along with Croslands
handling of the affair. During this statutory period of deliberation we note the
continuing press comment on the case (nearly all of which was hostile to the
closure) and other aspects of the appeal and consultation process, notably the
rights of parents under Sections 68 and 76 of the Education Act.
Part of the atmosphere around this matter at this time was a rumour that there
had been sexual irregularities at the school. The authors examined this issue in
detail as the rumour appeared to have come from County Hall: they found that
it had no substance whatsoever and provide evidence in this respect.
There is a strong, political thread running through this chapter, and once again
the politics of the comprehensive are examined. Labour had regained power in
the previous year with a very slim majority, and though Crosland was well
known as a supporter of the comprehensive ideal, others, including Harold
Wilson, the Prime Minister, were opposed to the idea of a single secondary
school for all children and wanted to keep the grammar separate. Crosland was
developing Circular 10/65 at this time, and we look at the politics surrounding
this, which coincided with direct appeals to him from: Duane, the Risinghill
staff and pupils, the probation service, high ranking representatives of the
ethnic minority groups, and the public at large. Most important was the PTA
appeal, which raised some very serious issues about Risinghills falling roll and
the integrity of some of the LCCs officials. It is an explosive document, which
is included as an appendix. The chapter ends with a description of the poignant
last day of the school, and Duanes farewell message to the pupils.
Chapter C12 concludes our story of Risinghill by looking at the immediate
aftermath of the closure. The views of the Risinghill teachers are presented
here, mainly through the quotations provided by Berg from her interviews.
There was continued press interest, particularly in response to Bergs book,

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 22 of 64

published in 1968. This also evoked interesting correspondence in the press

from both supporters of the schools closure and those opposed to it. Of
particular interest is the correspondence from Margaret Cole (wife of the
libertarian socialist G.D.H. Cole) who was chair of the LCCs Higher
Education Sub-Committee (one of the three sub-committees involved with the
closure of Risinghill.). In her letters to the press, however, Cole never once
divulged this connection to the school, and wrote vigorously in support of its
closure, castigating Berg in the process. The correspondence from Terence
Constable, former Head of Languages (for only a short period) about
Risinghills last few months is equally interesting, and is also reviewed in this
chapter. There is suspicion of his contribution to the debate (The Risinghill
Myth) being a put up job, but one that found favour with Cole. Having said this,
there are some aspects of Coles findings that we agree with, notably her
criticisms of Bergs portrayal of us (the Risinghill children) coming from
deprived and decrepit homes. Despite these faults, we believe that Bergs
account of what happened at Risinghill was accurate. Duanes papers (now
housed at the IOE) show this to be a matter of fact, not fiction. We also believe
that, had Berg not written her book in such a flamboyant style, undoubtedly
going over the top with some of her descriptions of Islington, her book would
not have been a best-seller. In this respect, perhaps the end justified the means.
We did tackle Berg about this as it was a sensitive issue for us, and for some of
the pupils who participated in our survey.


In this section we present our findings from surveys designed to elicit the
views, from a distance of over 40 years, of the teachers and pupils who
attended the school. The results are presented in chapters D1 (for teachers) the
remaining three (D2 to D4) for the ex-pupils.
In Chapter D1 we look at the results of our attempts at eliciting the views of
those teachers we could find after a gap of 40 years (bearing in mind that many
had probably died or were in their twilight years.). Eight teachers were
contacted (or contacted us) either though the questionnaire we prepared, or by
email and other means. These teachers were at the school at various times, for
varying durations, and were teaching different subjects. All were there for a
much longer period than Constable. Their separate recollections and views
of Duane and the school are presented here. If any pattern emerges, it is that
they perceived Risinghill as a significant episode in their careers; but towards
the school and Duane, support varied from the enthusiastic to the sceptical. Not
all of the teachers surveyed were against Duane, and there were shades of
opinion about him (something missing from Bergs account). However, it was
clear that there were a small number of authoritarian Communists who caused
disruption and dissent, but who seemed to have had the ear of certain officials

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 23 of 64

in County hall. It also shows there were disciplinary problems but whether
these were any worse or better than other schools in similar areas is unlikely.
There is also some support given to the idea that there was a hidden agenda
behind the schools closure. Lastly, there appears to have been general support
for Duanes no caning policy. Aggregated views (as far as these have any
significance) are presented in an addendum to the chapter.
Chapter D2 provides part one of the results of our survey with the pupils. Here
we describe the process of contacting them, and the provision of a
questionnaire to elicit their views on a number of issues, in particular whether,
as children, they felt poor and deprived. In addition to examining their home
backgrounds, we look at: their age while attending the school; when they
attended the school; which schools they came from; and gender, ethnicity and
mother tongue (given the high proportion of immigrant children.). We also
looked at the qualifications obtained at Risinghill and then later. A discussion
is provided about how this sample might represent the full population of
children who attended over the five years of the schools life, and also takes
into account that this survey is now a decade old. The results are also
considered in relation to ad hoc emails, letters and telephone conversations
received from those who did not complete the questionnaire. One of the major
objectives of the survey was to establish how the children viewed their status,
and whether they agreed with their depiction by Berg of generally being poor
and deprived, and living in an appalling area. The results from the
questionnaire concerning family life, economic conditions, housing conditions,
and parents jobs are presented. While many of the children were clearly aware
that they were poor, there is no support for Bergs contention that the children,
on the whole, were deprived in the wider sense of the word (though some
pupils were from dysfunctional families, and others in extreme want.). Thus,
reflecting our own recollections and views, the consensus appears that the view
of educational researcher David Limond (of Trinity College, Dublin) that Berg
dramatized the conditions of the area and the pupils are supported. Whether
this was deliberately done for rhetorical effect, or genuine (mis)perception,
ideological or not, remains unclear.
We continue the description of the pupils and their attitudes to Risinghill in
Chapter D3 by examining their responses to questions about the school, its
closure and Michael Duane. As with the previous chapter, D3 is freely
illustrated with quotations from the pupils. Thus the chapter presents and
discusses questions concerning: perceptions of Duane; recollections of the
teachers; the policy of no CP; discipline; and bullying. We also looked at
recollections of the school itself: the buildings; layout and facilities; its
organisation and ethos; and it being a mixed school as opposed to single-sex.
Comparisons are made with other schools, and comparable areas including
recollections of previous schools, and other schools attended when Risinghill
closed. In addition, we look at the pupils views of their own behaviour at the
school and, where relevant, with regard to the law. We also report on the

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 24 of 64

results of asking what the pupils liked and disliked about the school. Regarding
Duane, there was ambivalence about his no caning policy, agreeing with it at
one level, but regretting that it might have encouraged bad behaviour; however
there was almost universal respect for the man as a teacher and human being.
Likewise, there are mixed recollections of the teachers, some finding a teacher
inspirational, others finding the same teacher intimidating. Regarding the
school itself, it is clear that it was nothing like the image sometimes presented
of a Summerhill in an urban, state setting.
Finally, in Chapter D4, we look at how these pupils fared in life and how they
viewed education at the time that they responded to the questionnaire 40
years after Risinghill and with their life experiences to further inform them. We
look at the experiences of children that moved on to other schools from
Risinghill; in most cases the new school (Starcross included) was viewed less
favourably. The pupils ambitions on leaving Risinghill were, for the most part,
focussed on careers and earning money, or looking forward to building a
family. We looked at the careers that followed as expected a vast variety, but
included many which could be counted very successful by our current
standards of assessment. They include: the establishment of successful
businesses; professional people; artists; as well as tradesmen and women. Most
of the respondents had found their careers satisfying with a few going on to
achieve high, academic success. Answers to the open-ended questions (for
likes and dislikes of Risinghill) and what was useful to them in later life, are
presented and discussed. Only six respondents noted that attending Risinghill
had a detrimental effect on them. Interestingly over 70% of the respondents
thought that the school should have remained open. However, though there
were not many replies to the question whether they would have sent their
children to the school, some replies showed distinct reservations. The chapter
ends with a presentation of the rather equivocal attitude to education as of
2005/6. It notes the high number of respondents saying that instilling respect
for others, followed by teaching the three Rs as the most important aspects of
education. It also notes some scepticism about the value of examinations.
Lastly we asked the respondents how they felt about life now - a high
percentage reported contentment and happiness (but note, this was just prerecession.).


This section comprises four chapters, the first of which (E1) brings the reader
up to date with the politics of the comprehensive, and the second (E2) with the
continuation of Duanes battle with the ILEA, and through into retirement. E3
presents our conclusions. Finally E4 presents last words from Leila Berg,
written for us some 10 years ago in anticipation of this book.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 25 of 64

Chapter E1 brings the politics of the comprehensive up to date, starting with

the introduction of Circular 10/65 that came into force after Risinghill closed.
We look at the political milestones afterwards, for example:
The 1966 Local Government Act (Section 11) which contributed to the
costs of teaching immigrant children to read and write in English;
something Duane was castigated for;
The Public Schools Commission (1968) which recommended the
integration of independent schools into the state system, but was not
The removal of Circular 10/65 in 1970 when, under the Conservatives,
Local Authorities were no longer required or requested to go
The reinstatement of Circular 10/65 (with Circular 10/70) when Labour
was returned to power in 1974;
Labours 1976 Education Act which abolished selection by ability: a
policy that was repealed three years later when the Conservatives won
the 1979 General Election.
We also look (briefly) at the legislative changes from 1980 onwards, all of
which have contributed to the current market-driven system of today that
favours one at the expense of another. The Every Child Matters agenda is
viewed in this context, as are many other associated issues, including truancy.
From an academic perspective, we discuss (again briefly) the value of
examinations, comparing the performance of the comprehensive against the
grammar in this respect. At the same time we look at the changes from the
GCE to the CSE and from the CSE to the GSCE with a possible return to the
old GCE if the current* Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) gets
his way. The chapter ends with a review of the 1944 Education Act, asking the
question: What has been achieved in real terms since then? *Has since been
replaced with Nicky Morgan.
Chapter E2 completes Duanes story (from the autumn of 1965 through to
1997 when he retired from teaching) and documents his inability to obtain
another headship despite being an unattached head teacher on a full heads
salary for 15 years. During this period, he applied for over 200 headships in
and around the London area. It also lists the job offers made to him by the
ILEA, one of which was for a schools inspector in Nigeria. His acceptance of
what he called his non-job at Garnet College (where he was not allowed to
teach) is documented here, as is his fight to get the teaching ban lifted. His
prolific activities as a public speaker and popular lecturer on educational issues
are reviewed here too, together with his political and religious leanings,
touching briefly on his stance on anarchism. We also look at his progressive
education admirers, notably A S Neill (founder of Summerhill) and Professor
Shin-ichiro Hori, (founder of the Kinokuni Childrens Village Schools in
Japan, and the Kilquhanity Childrens Village school in Castle Douglas,

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 26 of 64

Scotland) along with his critics, David Limond, in particular. Duanes

publications are also listed here.
Chapter E3 rounds off the book by pulling all the different threads of the
Risinghill story together, and presenting our conclusions about these and our
thoughts about how the affair could inform current educational questions and
opinion. We believe that there were ulterior motives behind the closure of
Risinghill if not a conspiracy, then at least informal plotting. The driving
forces behind this seem to have operated at a number of levels: there were the
local tensions within the LCC (between the permanent, salaried hierarchy and
the elected, voluntary hierarchy which served on the Council for a fixed term,
coming and going every time there was a local election) and the central
government, which came and went in a similar fashion. It is here that the
vagaries of the national system, locally administered come into play again,
also the extraordinary powers wielded by CEOs.
Objectively, it is not clear from this distance how far the officials were
operating with, against, or at least independently of, the wishes of the elected
representatives of the people of London, but based on the evidence we have
uncovered we believe the practice was widespread. Added to this mix was the
ever contentious subject of educational politics right against left (and against
the authoritarian, Communist left) and divergences within the Labour Party
We conclude with speculation whether the situation for working class (now
transmuted to the disadvantaged) children of lower academic ability has
changed much over the years. Possibly not: the 11+ may have gone, but there is
still selection - in the way that schools are funded and operate in general; there
being a confusing plethora of schools where the emphasis is on examinations,
performance and testing. And there is still class division with the wealthier
parent opting out of the state system. In this set-up there is no place for the
imaginative, practical child, and ultimately the happy child, which is a terrible
indictment of the society that we live in.
Chapter E4 concludes the book by reproducing a piece, The Next Room,
written for us by Berg in her old age to include in RR. It was originally seen by
her as an introduction to the book, but we feel it is perhaps better to place it
here as a valedictory piece. It also stands for the passion she felt for the school,
its children and Duane. While we do not necessarily agree with all of her
depictions of the time, we do share her concern and passion. It is cast in the
form of a series of vignettes: memories of Michael Duane; of incidents in
1965; of some of the teachers; and the children and parents of the school. It
concludes with a powerful tribute to Duane.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 27 of 64

Chapter B1 The Headmaster: Michael Duane

The conduct of schools, based upon a new
order of conception, is so much more
difficult than is the management of schools
which walk the beaten path.
John Dewey (Experience and Education, 1938)
William Michael Duane1 was born on 25 January 1915 in Dublin, the only child of
John Joe and Ellie Duane, both working class Irish Catholics. Having survived the
First World War, John Joes untimely death - in one of the many bloody skirmishes
following the Easter Uprising of 1916 was tragic. John Joe was not one of Michael
Collins rebels. It is our understanding (from Margaret Duane) that he was shot by
accident at work or on his way to work, and this was very much a case of him being in
the wrong place at the wrong time. Ellie Duane, as far as we know, was a domestic
servant, taking whatever work was available when her husband died.

B1.1 Childhood and Education

Although Duane was very young at the time, he remembered the fearful sounds of
artillery fire, and of being carried in his mothers shawl as they fled from the fighting.
They went to Portarlington, a small town 45 miles southwest of Dublin, where young
Michael was entrusted to the care of his grandparents (the Duanes). Times were hard
then, and like so many others of that era Ellie Duane was forced to leave Ireland to
look for work in England so that she could support her son.
The next five or six years were extremely unhappy for Duane. His grandparents
resented having to take him in and they treated him badly. Aged 10, he was put on a
boat to join his mother in England, making the sea crossing alone. Shortly after his

Duane rarely used his first given name William, and in this book we follow that practice by
referring to him as Michael Duane (abbreviated to Duane or MD). However, in referencing works and
documents by him we retain the initial W, thus Duane, W. D. Note that this distinguishes him from his
second wife Margaret, referenced by Duane, M. Somewhat confusingly his first wife was also a
Margaret (Margaret Mary Banks), but she is not referenced here neither is his daughter, by his first
wife, Margaret Mary Banks, who was also called Margaret!

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 28 of 64

arrival, Ellie Duane applied for the position of Housekeeper to two Catholic
gentlemen in Hampstead, north London, taking her son with her to the interview.
Although she did not get the job, these gentlemen offered to take Duane under their
wing and be became a ward of sorts, remaining with these people for the rest of his
educational life. Margaret Duane was unable to tell us why Ellie Duane had left her
young son with two strangers, as Duane had never really spoken to her about this in
any detail.

She did, however, tell us that Duane had a very close and loving

relationship with his mother, who did not desert him as a child. He was taken out for
trips to places like the Zoo and to Lyons Corner House (for tea) when his mother
could afford the money and time.
Margaret Duane also told us that Ellie Duane had always wanted her son to enter the
priesthood, which might explain why she gave him up in the way that she did.
Duanes early schooling certainly points in this direction. His first school was the
Dominican School in Archway, north London. From there, at the age of 11, he was
sent to the Jesuits School, a few miles away in Stamford Hill. It was here that he
began his ecclesiastical training, developing his views on indoctrination and
Fear of physical punishment in the education of children has a
very long history! Dictators operate on exactly the same principle
fear! What did the Jesuits say? Give me a child until the age of
six then you may do with him what you will! I was educated by
the Jesuits but, because I was eleven by the time I was in their
hands, they didnt have a real chance to indoctrinate me. I was
only beaten twice in seven years, so either they thought me
malleable enough, or I enjoyed my school. I certainly look back on
it with some affection.
Contrary to what people believe of the Jesuits, their central
teaching was that whatever you do, however trivial, you must do it
to the best of your ability and if you fail to do what you sincerely
believe to be right, then you are committing a grave sin. (Laikin,

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 29 of 64

While at the Jesuits School, Duane and his peers were interviewed for the priesthood.
All of Duanes friends were accepted straight away, but he was not: instead, he was
asked to finish his schooling first and then go to university before taking this final
step. Unable to understand why he had been treated differently, this upset Duane
For some reason, they must have seen something in Michael and
we dont know what Mike didnt know what and why he was
different to all his friends. He felt a bit miffed about this at the time
that he didnt get accepted. (Duane, M, 2006, p8)
In January 1935, aged 20, Duane began a degree course at Queen Mary College,
London, graduating three years later with a degree in English Language and
Literature. Then, in 1939, he underwent teacher training at the Institute of Education
(IOE), after which he joined Dame Alice Owens School in Islington, north London. It
was around this time, and probably soon after he left university, that he married his
first wife, Margaret Mary Banks, whom he had met at university. Their first child,
Anthony, was born on 14 October 1940, which was also the year in which he began
his army service - just after the outbreak of World War Two (WWII) in September
1939. Later children by Margaret Mary were John, (1943), Margaret (1947) and
Simon (1955). He subsequently acquired two stepchildren (Hamish and Stewart)
when he got remarried to Margaret Johnson.

B1.2 The War Years

Duane joined the Royal Armoured Corps in 1941 as a Second Lieutenant. In 1942 he
was promoted to Captain, where he was second in command of a squadron of tanks.
In the same year, he became Staff Captain of a Brigade. Other advancements
followed; the most significant being his promotion, on the battle-front, to Major in
1945. He served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, and was also the Liaison
Officer between the British and the Americans, working under General Miles
Dempsey, Commander of the Second Army, and Field Marshal Montgomery.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 30 of 64

His war record is impressive: mentioned twice in despatches, receiving the Croix de
Guerre Avec Palme, Belgiums highest honour and made a Chevalier de lOrdre de
Leopold II Avec Palme for his services in France and Belgium2. After the war, he
joined the United Nations Association of the UK (UNA-UK) and was its chairman for
a time.
On discharge from the army, Duane was given an impeccable testimonial from the
then Brigadier V FitzGeorge-Balfour, who himself had a distinguished military
career. The testimonial is cited in full in Leila Bergs book, and can also be found in
the Duane archive held at the IOE (now in a closed file, MD/2/3). To quote two of the
He has undoubted organising ability and powers of leadership,
while his independent character ensures the capacity for original
thought and sound judgement.

His many interests are reflected in considerable independence of

opinion and character, but he gets on equally well with those who
do not agree with them; though he enjoys putting over his views, he
never rams them down other peoples throats and is quite broadminded enough to appreciate the point of view of others. (Quoted in
Berg, 1968, p25)

In stark contrast, Dr David Limond, a leading lecturer in the history of education,

describes Duane as follows:

One of Duanes decorations was for leading his platoon across a stretch of river, under cover of
darkness, and through enemy lines. By commandeering a number of small paddleboats from a lake
in Brussels, he was able to get his men across, under the noses of the Germans, without making any
noise. His Croix de Guerre and promotion to the rank of Major was for the courage and bravery
displayed during the glorious battles that led to the liberation of Belgium. Whether Duane
considered the battles as glorious is a moot point, however he did play a key part in the D Day
Landings by providing British Intelligence with crucial information prior to the assault. His brief
was to obtain surveillance of German munitions in Antwerp Harbour; no easy task when one
considers he was in occupied France when he received his orders. To get to the harbour, Duane
drove through the enemy lines at night (with headlights switched off) and rested up in the woods by
day. (Source: Margaret Duane)

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 31 of 64

Duane could be autocratic (one former student has described him

as having an aristocratic bearing); he could be vain (I have
several indications that he enjoyed flattery) and frequently
exhibited an unwillingness to compromise which may have gone
beyond assertion of principle and entered the realm of downright

He was self-assured and even conceited, and I

confess that I have not always found myself liking him at the most
basic human level. If it is said that here I am not passing an
academic judgment, then so be it (Limond, 2003, p71)
Limond, however, never met Duane. And we doubt that he has met any of Duanes
students or, indeed, anyone that knew Duane well. His observations must, therefore,
be based purely on archive materials, probably the same materials that we have
examined at the IOE, or secondary sources. The IOE materials, give full details of
Duanes army career so we are amazed that Limond has not made the obvious
connection with Duanes aristocratic bearing. He also seems to have missed the
point that Duane never used the title Major in civilian life, hardly the actions of a
conceited man. We, who did know him and were his students, remember a man of
impressive demeanour but that is not the same as aristocratic.
The war, as Margaret Duane points out, affected her husband deeply:
He was in a tank in the D Day landings, he was a tank commander. This chap
(Limond) doesnt want to know about that does he? No! There was one of
those poems that he wrote and I mean, talk about having a breakdown after
the war, you know, you could understand it, couldnt you? He didnt have
what some people call a good war, he had a terribly, terribly rotten war, and
that didnt help, it didnt help at all. He describes it in this poem how they
were walking on bodies, it was absolutely awful. (Duane, M, 2006, p8)
Here is the poem in question as supplied by Margaret Duane. Entitled The Camp it
deals with the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp where Duane, as
Liaison Officer between the British and the American forces, witnessed first-hand the
plight of the inmates.

The Camp
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 32 of 64

The Corps centre-line ran alongside

Beech Wood. The leading division
Paused. Urgent calls crackled
Demanding medics, food, ambulances

Behind barbed wire skeletons with skins

Stared out from shaven skulls.
Around us neat piles of
Dead and dying, like logs
Layered criss-cross with dangling heads
Bursts of fire from pale soldiers
Ended the slouching arrogance
Of guards who failed
To leap to instant orders
Officers turned a blind eye.
In this camp, poised on the tips
Of bayonets, hate and madness swayed,
Outraged love burst from the barrel of a
There remained only tears
For the dying in Buchenwald



Another, equally haunting, poem is about Falaise, claimed by some to be one of the
fiercest battles of WWII. Around 10,000 German soldiers are thought to have lost
their lives at Falaise with 50,000 or more taken prisoner:

After Falaise

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 33 of 64

His men, flung like discarded dolls

Lay close around the young captain.
Old in war beyond his years he lay
Ghouls, stealing among the bloated dead
Emptied wallet and holster and hacked
His ring finger
On the grey tunic, tight with corruption,
Campaign medals and an Iron Cross
Indifferent pride
Around his stinking corpse snapshots
Of a young woman and two fair children
Lay scattered
Larger than death his sex had risen
Still yearning for his new, young



As was (and still is) the case with many war veterans, Duane never spoke about his
war experiences. It was not until the 1990s when he was in his twilight years and he
started to write poetry that Margaret Duane began to understand the effects of the war
on her husband, and why he had sometimes suffered with spells of depression. He was
a changed person afterwards, so too was the world that he returned to.

B1.3 The Post War Years

In the 1940s secondary education was reorganised in the light of the 1944 Education
Act. As you will see in Chapters C1-C3, the way was also being paved for a new type
of school - the comprehensive. In line with these reforms, some educationalists were
advocating a bolder, more progressive, approach to teaching which included the
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 34 of 64

rejection of Corporal Punishment (CP). All of these developments were close to

Duanes heart.
Following a short spell back at Dame Alice Owens, he tutored at the IOE for a year.
It was at the IOE, in 1947, that he first met John Newsom, who would become
influential in his career3.

B1.4 Howe Dell County Secondary School

In September 1948, Duane, then 33, was appointed headmaster of Howe Dell, a new
County secondary school in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. John Newsom, who was the
County Director of Education at the time, had encouraged Duane to apply for the job4.
When John Newsom asked him how long it would take to put Howe Dell on its feet,
he replied that he would need at least three years. He was told that he would be given
five years with no questions asked.
Because Howe Dell was not quite ready, Duane was asked to take the headship of
Beaumont Boys School in St Albans, for one term. He agreed willingly and, judging
by the praise from the Divisional Officer, this temporary role was very successful:
This School is so very different from the one you took over in
September that anyone connected with the former establishment
would scarcely recognise it as the same School now. (Berg, 1968,
John Newsom was also pleased with Duanes efforts, writing to him to say that, with
his headship, Howe Dell could become one of the greatest jewels in Hertfordshires
educational crown. (Berg, 1968, p26)
But the Howe Dell headship was to prove far more challenging and would end in
disaster. When the school opened in January 1949, not all of the accommodation was
available: some lessons had to be taught in a school that was four miles away, and this


John Newsom, was knighted in 1963 for his report Half our Future. This report was about the
average child and was one of the milestones in the history of comprehensive education.
He was also on the interview panel with the Divisional Education Officer and the Chair of
Governors, a woman, who was in tune with Duanes progressive ideas and welcomed the policies
he put forward for the school.
Can also be found at IOE, in file MD/2/3, now closed. The name of the Divisional Education
Officer is D Goacher, and the date of letter is 14 December 1948.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 35 of 64

situation continued until the summer of 1950. Staffing was another serious issue.
There was a shortage of experienced teachers, and problems with the recruitment of
administrative and domestic staff too.
The pupils, from relatively poor, working-class backgrounds, were drawn from six
village primary schools, and the intake included some older children from a nearby
orphanage. These children were barely literate, having been educated in elementary
schools where different age groups were all taught together. Their IQs ranged from 51
to 120. Many could not read at all. (Berg, 1968, p36)
Duane believed that, if he and his staff were to educate these children successfully, it
was necessary to adopt some of the newer, educational methods that were emerging at
this time. In essence this was a friendlier, less structured, approach to teaching which
included the removal of fear from the classroom. This, though, went against the
traditional view that discipline could best be maintained through CP6.
Despite the many difficulties, he developed a good working relationship with his
teaching team and with their support abandoned CP. Together they introduced a
system where the children were asked to take responsibility for their actions: key to
this approach was involving them in considering appropriate, alternative forms of
The school had been open for about a year when it was asked to participate in a
UNESCO research project whose aim was to determine how children would react to
two black teachers in the school. (James and Tenen, 1953) The following extracts
from the UNESCO report provide a flavour of the schools policy and what Duane
was all about:
The headmaster and his staff were enthusiastic believers in the new
method of education.

The headmaster had previously been a

lecturer in educational method, and had taken over this school in

an attempt to translate principles into practice.

Although Duanes plans for the school were endorsed fully by the Education Authority, the
rejection of CP was a contentious and divisive issue. For many teachers, the cane was seen as an
essential work tool; some even considered the practice of flogging to be a contractual right.
Corporal Punishment was also viewed by many to be an aid to education itself and was used
unashamedly in this context.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 36 of 64

They interpreted learning in this widest sense, so the emotional

needs of the children as individuals were considered to be as
important as the more conventional academic requirements, . . .
The headmaster and his staff made it their business to know as
much as possible about the home life of each child, and to help
each to understand and resolve its personal problems. In his spare
time the headmaster visited the villages from which his children
were drawn, and talked to the parents in their homes and at village
meetings, explaining to them his aims in the school.
In the daily life of the school the aim was self-discipline: not
authoritarian, imposed from above by more powerful adults, but
collective, and the few general rules there were had been arrived
at after discussion with the children and evolved from their
common experience, not without dust and heat. There was no
corporal punishment . . . Because the aims of the headmaster and
staff were to free the children from the distortions caused by fear,
and to help them to acquire self-confidence and the ability to live
harmoniously, the treatment of misdemeanours aimed at being
constructive rather than retributive. Relations between children
and staff were very informal and friendly.

((James and Tenen,

1953, pp13-14

Although Duane had the support of his staff and the parents, the Governing Body
(GB) was a different matter. Here there was a lot of opposition to his ideas, and in
particular to the concept of self-discipline. A big blow for Duane was the replacement
of the progressive chair of governors with one who was very much a traditional
authoritarian. This man, Alderman G Maynard, was a powerful member of the
Conservative Party. He had considerable influence in the area and on the mainly
Conservative GB.
In contrast to the previous chair, Maynard was opposed to Duanes progressive ideas,
and had strong views on CP too. He insisted that Duane be made to use the cane
which Duane refused to do. The two did not see eye to eye and according to Margaret

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 37 of 64

Duane this was because Maynard believed he (Duane) was a communist. Duane was,
in fact, a socialist at this time and had no Communist leanings whatsoever. His son,
Simon, confirmed this: (Duane, S. 2007)
I do remember that he was very anti-Communist Party. (I believe
he regarded its members as reactionary, and he was certainly not a
Soviet sympathiser).
Within months of Howe Dell opening, rumours and complaints about the school
started to circulate. Fears about communists were rife at this time, and one rumour
was that some teachers were spreading communist propaganda. Other complaints
were about inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst the pupils (a girls knickers had
been pulled down when the children were playing boisterously on a pile of hay in a
barn) and the fact that the pupils had seen a sex education film showing a black man
and a white woman. This was a well-known filmstrip on human physiology by the
biologist and educator Cyril Bibby in which the male figures were shaded more
strongly than the female.
There was also a formal complaint from the Royal Victoria Patriotic School
orphanage at Essendon, near Hatfield, that the children attending Howe Dell were
taking a different view on life compared to the children who attended other schools in
the area. It seems they were not being taught to know their place in society. (Royal
Victoria Patriotic School, 1949)
These complaints resulted in several small school inspections, and a special inquiry to
investigate the knickers incident. The inquiry committee consisted of just two
people; one was Alderman Maynard. Interestingly, no evidence of indecent interest
was found. However, the committee took this opportunity to express its concern
about other matters that were unrelated to the investigation, in effect challenging
Duanes methods and his leadership in general7.
The parents and teachers, however, were perfectly happy with Duane and what was
being achieved in the school. In a questionnaire that he sent to 150 parents, many of

Correspondence relating to the inspections and the knickers incident, again can be found in IOE,
file MD/2/4, now closed.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 38 of 64

whom were said to be semi-literate, he received 137 replies (a commendable 91%

response rate). (Berg, 1968, p33) Some results:

72-percent said their children were happier

62-percent said their children were more interested in school work

57-percent said their children were more self-confident.

But this parental involvement did not impress some of the governors, who considered
Duanes actions to be inappropriate and ill-advised. He was instructed to never again
communicate with the parents in this way.
The teachers, who wanted to express their support for Duane, sent a letter to the GB
requesting permission to take part in the meeting to discuss the inquirys findings.
They did not receive a reply. At this meeting, the governors denounced Duanes
policies, stating very firmly that a five year programme as envisaged by the
headmaster at the expense of the children could not be tolerated. (Berg, 1968, p26)8.
The meeting was stormy, at the end of which Duane offered his resignation. But this
was ignored.
Alderman Maynard and the governors appear to have been in a very powerful
position, more powerful in fact than the Education Authority which had appointed
Duane and approved his policy for the school. By the autumn of 1950, the GB had
engineered a formal inspection of the school. We say engineered because it was very
unusual to inspect a school formally that had been open for only 20 months. New
schools were normally allowed a far more generous time frame (up to seven years) in
which to settle and become established before any formal examination took place.
The inspections were made on 20th September and the 7th, 8th and 9th November
1950. The printed inspection report by HMI was issued in January 1951. (Ministry of
Education, 1951). The conducting HMI was a man who believed in CP. When this
inspector presented a verbal report to the GB of the Inspectorates findings, he
denounced Duanes policies despite some of his colleagues finding areas of work in
the school to be good, very good and even outstanding. It seems the children

Also in IOE File MD/2/3, now closed.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 39 of 64

blossomed in the arts and crafts but unsurprisingly did not measure up in the more
academic subjects such as English and Mathematics. (Ministry of Education, 1951,
While the Inspectorate appears to have acknowledged the effects of the poor
accommodation and staffing problems on the smooth running of the school, the
inability of the children to perform to the required academic standards, because of
their low IQs, was strongly rejected. One is tempted to ask whats new?
By now Duane was a well-respected figure in the district, and was selected as a
Labour candidate for a seat on the Rural District Council (RDC) albeit that he did not
pursue this. Duane was also a Justice of the Peace (JP), often sitting on the same
bench as Alderman Maynard, who was chairman of magistrates. The Alderman had
already expressed his concerns about Duane being a JP, and the RDC nomination
infuriated him even further. Four months after the inspection report, the GB met
again to discuss progress.

At this meeting the Governors called for Duanes

dismissal, citing poor inspections and Duanes election to public offices while
employed at the school as their reason.
John Newsom must have been completely taken aback, if not embarrassed, by the
GBs decision. In the summer of 1950, he had taken Duane with him on a trip to
Holland, visiting a number of secondary schools and attending an international
conference on secondary education at which Duane was a speaker. His contribution to
the symposium was well received, and John Newsom was particularly pleased
because he (Duane) had drawn on the successful work at Howe Dell!
The GBs resolution to dismiss Duane never went to the Divisional Executive, chiefly
because Alderman Maynard considered this unnecessary. Many of the Howe Dell
governors were also on the Divisional Executive so in his view this stage of the
dismissal process was unimportant. But those members who were not Howe Dell
Governors objected strongly to the manner in which the dismissal was being handled,
and at a council meeting formally claimed the resolution as their right:
They stated that there was not sufficient evidence to make a
recommendation concerning dismissal and by eleven votes to two
recommended that no action be taken against Mr Duane pending
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 40 of 64

an early full inspection of the school by the Ministry. (Berg, 1968,

Meanwhile, both the parents and teachers appealed the GBs decision, sending
petitions to the Divisional Education Officer and the Minister of Education. There
was plenty of support for Duane from outside too - from prominent educationalists,
leaders in the community and others who approved of his work at the school.
Duane had also started legal proceedings against the governors and was supported in
this by his union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT). He did this, fully aware
that a headmaster who appears in a court case, even if he wins, would have difficulty
finding another job. But he had a young family to support and could not afford to take
too many risks. Even if he was successful in his claim for unfair dismissal, he would
still have to work with the same governors so he was in a no-win situation. It was at
this point that John Newsom intervened and advised him to resign. Duane took
Newsoms advice and on tendering his resignation was immediately suspended with
On leaving the school, Duane was given a glowing reference by Mr Bowmer, a
member of the Divisional Executive:
I was a member of the interviewing committee at the time Mr
Duane was appointed Headmaster of Howe Dell School, and was
very much impressed by his personality
The effect on both children and parents was even better than our
wildest hopes. Apart from his exceptional educational ability and
experience, Mr Duane has a quality of leadership which is rare
even among headmasters. (Berg, 1968, p39)
Howe Dell closed in 1954, but was reopened as a primary school in 1955. It was
probably not the first new school to be closed in very dubious circumstances, and
would certainly not be the last.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 41 of 64

There is a large section of Leila Bergs book that is devoted to Howe Dell; it is almost
a story in itself9. What we found interesting was the parallels with Risinghill. It is
probably for this reason that Berg gave such a detailed account of what happened to
Duane at this school.

B1.5 Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys School

Duane had no difficulty securing another headship; once again getting John
Newsoms support.

His next headship, in 1952, was at Alderman Woodrow

Secondary Boys School in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

It was at Lowestoft that he met

Margaret Johnson who would later become his second wife. At that time, Margaret
was married and had two boys, Hamish and Stewart. Her youngest son, Stewart, was
a pupil at Alderman Woodrow and she remembered him coming home on Duanes
first day at the school and telling her that the new headmaster was quite strict. This
surprised her as there had been rumours that the school would become another
Summerhill (which was nearby) and as such would be more lax10.
Duanes leadership style has often been compared to that of A.S. Neill, who founded
Summerhill, the renowned small, private, non-authoritarian boarding school that still
exists today. However, these two headmasters were working in completely different
environments. Summerhill was set in the countryside and chosen by parents who
could afford to pay the fees and wanted this particular type of education for their
children, whereas schools like Howe Dell, Alderman Woodrow and Risinghill were
state schools located in largely working-class areas where ordinary parents had very
little choice or control over how their children should be educated.
During his time at Alderman Woodrow, Duane had one or two brushes with authority
but managed to put his stamp on the school without too many problems. This was
Labour country albeit that the town of Lowestoft was in the middle of a Torycontrolled district. Consequently there was less opposition to the comprehensive
concept and to his (Duanes) progressive ideas. Corporal Punishment was one of the
key issues that he wanted to tackle. As with most schools in the country, the boys at


We have seen the original documents relating to this period at the IOE and now understand why
Leila Berg spent so much time on this part of Michael Duanes career but there is no room to
examine this aspect of Duanes earlier life further here, except as needed for the following chapters
When Michael arrived in Lowestoft he did visit A.S. Neill, headmaster of Summerhill, mainly
because he wanted to know how Summerhills School Council meetings were run by the children.
Over a period of time, he became great friends with Neill, but was not his protg by any means.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 42 of 64

Alderman Woodrow were caned regularly. It was even reported in Bergs book that
one teacher at this school habitually threw hammers at the children (Berg, 1968, p42).
Duane, of course, was not prepared to allow this state of affairs to continue and
approached the matter in the same way that he had at Howe Dell, calling a staff
meeting to express his views about CP and then trying to win the teachers around.
In the interim, his way of getting over the problem was to insist that, if any caning
was to be carried out, it should comply strictly with the regulations. By making this
stipulation, only he, as headmaster, would be allowed to use the cane.
After years of flouting the rules some teachers were not happy about this and
deliberately ignored his instructions.
Once he heard a boy cry out in pain, and walked into the classroom and found a master beating a boy with the blackboard ruler:
he took the boy straight out of the class and into his own study.
Later he discovered that this particular teacher, when Mr. Duane
had addressed the school at assembly, would take his class into his
room, shut the door, and say, Well you can put all that right out of
your minds. He thinks he runs the school but he doesnt. Hes
only been here a year and he doesnt know what hes talking
about. Ill deal with you the way I like, not the way he likes, and I
want that understood! (Berg, 1968, p41)
So, once again, slowly but surely, Duane started to win over the hearts and minds of
some of the teachers. Those who were persuaded began to appreciate that there were
alternatives to CP while others realised that, despite their personal views, they had to
abide by the rules.
Over time, the school adapted to his policies and routines but Duane was becoming
increasingly restless. On the surface, education appeared to be moving in the right
direction but where the big issues were concerned, nothing much had changed. In a
published letter to the editor of the Lowestoft Journal, he airs his frustrations quite

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 43 of 64

Sir Good discipline exists in a school when the parents and the
teachers are agreed about the aims and the methods of rearing
children. The most educated seven percent of our population pay
for well educated teachers in private nursery, preparatory, public
and direct grant schools to teach their children for 16 years in
classes of under 20 to become literate and intelligent . . ..
. . . Less fortunate teachers struggle to teach the forty-one per cent
at the bottom of the pile for barely 10 years in classes of over
30. No wonder they do not speak, read or write as their teachers
would wish; nor do they go to the university.
Language (including maths, science, music, art ) is intelligence;
that is why the wealthy keep their young in education for 20 years.
And they now do this the more easily because three quarters of the
population, through taxes, pay for the very expensive institutions
like grammar schools and universities that are attended by less
than a quarter of the population, while the rest have to make do in
secondary modern and so-called comprehensive schools, so they
are doubly suckers! Is it, therefore, an accident that the least
educated do the deadening jobs that require little initiative?
It (corporal punishment) has been almost universally out-lawed in
other western countries. It can be associated with psychological
perversion affecting both the beater and the beaten and it is
ineffective in precisely those cases in which its use is most hotly
defended. (Lowestoft Journal ref)
It was around this time that Duane decided to look for a more challenging role. He
had made no secret of his desire to return to London at some point as this was where
he had always wanted to be:
I want to work in an area where the problems have not yet been
solved where the children are being pulled by their environment
into completely impossible shapes. I have to be in a job where I

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 44 of 64

can be used and burnt out, with nothing left in reserve. This means
London. London is a battlefront. (Berg, 1968, p239)
This was when he applied for, and was appointed to, the post at Risinghill. In contrast
to his difficult ending at Howe Dell, Duane left Alderman Woodrow on a positive
note: the last school inspection report was a good one. Among other things, it
showed that he gradually, but surely, gained the confidence of the staff and there
was a good team spirit in the school (Ministry of Education, 1957).
He was also liked and respected by the children; two of whom contacted us in 2006 to
tell us how Duane had influenced their lives. The first, Michael Foreman, is a famous
illustrator of childrens books and is an author in his own right:
I cannot emphasize too much Michael Duanes impact when he
arrived at Alderman Woodrow. I can see him now, bounding
across the stage at his very first morning assembly. He was such a
contrast from the previous regime a sudden switch from
learning to education.
He was crucial to the life I have lived. There have been others
along the way to whom I am indebted, of course, but I would not
have met them without the initial belief, direction and support
given to me by Michael Duane. The belief was the most important
factor. He made an ordinary working-class boy believe that he
had a talent for something. (Foreman, 2006)
Similar views were expressed by Jonathan Cooper, now a successful teacher and
lecturer in art:
At that time my parents and teachers were trying to get me to enrol
for evening classes at the Lowestoft School of Art. I was rather an
introverted child, lacking in confidence so I held back. One day
Michael Duane called me into his office. Take this money, he
said, handing me a sixpence. This is your bus fare. A bus leaves
from outside the school in five minutes. Get on the bus, go into
Lowestoft and enrol at the Art School. This I did and my future

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 45 of 64

career was thus decided, teaching and lecturing in Art Education

for the past forty years!
He knew his pupils as individuals and recognised their strengths.
His approach should be a role model for todays teachers. He
acted instinctively for the good of the child. Some educationalists
today seem to think more of their own research and status than
they do of their own students. It seems that the less contact they
have with students the better and on line and PowerPoint talks
continue to distance them from an individual approach.
Michael Duane helped shape my future and it was through his
actions that I saw my way forward. I came from a working class
background with little hope of success, having gone to the local
secondary school after being termed a failure at the age of
eleven. My hope is that Michael Duanes message will get through
to this test ridden, target based society that we now find ourselves
in and that it is not too late! (Cooper, 2006)
To finalise this part of Duanes story, we leave you with some extracts from a report
produced by the Borough Education Officer in Lowestoft, presumably in response to
a request for a reference from the London County Council (LCC):
I have no hesitation in saying that Mr Duane is one of the ablest
Head Teachers I have met. He is very widely read and possesses
an alert and receptive mind and can see educational problems and
opportunities in a wider range and with truer educational
perspectives than is the case with the majority of Head Teachers.
He deserves a school that will offer him wider opportunities than is
afforded by his present school and I have no hesitation in
recommending him to you
Of all his qualities I should certainly put as one of the highest his
awareness of the needs of children and adolescents, he has a keen
insight into child life and I have a feeling that no matter how large

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 46 of 64

a school may be he would know the individual needs of every child

in his school. (Borough of Lowestoft, 1959?)
Michael Duane did have a way with children and, as you will see later, managed to
turn around some of Risinghills most disaffected pupils. That he had a more difficult
job winning over his staff is not that surprising. Despite all the promises about
educational reform, few were prepared to stray too far from the beaten path and this
included those who, on the face of it, openly supported the comprehensive model.


Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 47 of 64

Chapter C1 The Development of State Education

Education without values, as useful as it is,
seems rather to make man a more clever
C. S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man, 1943)

When we first read Leila Bergs Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School (Berg,
1968) we found certain parts of the story difficult to follow mainly because we had
not understood the politics of education. This, we soon discovered, had a massive
impact on the school. It also became clear that, unless we were able to explain the
political motivations and the differing party political perspectives on how the
working-class and the presumed less academically able should be educated, our story
would be difficult to tell.
As children, a former Risinghill Teacher, Terence Constable, described us as the
waste clay of an educational experiment. (Constable, 1968). But what was this
experiment? And on what basis was it deemed to be a failure? To find out, we were
forced to go back to the beginning, to understand, first and foremost, the premise on
which this experiment had begun life.
Initially we had taken only a cursory look at the educational politics prior to the
opening of Risinghill, but this had not told us a great deal. A more detailed
examination, however, revealed that, as early as the 19th century, at the heart of the
education debate was the grammar school and how to educate working-class children.
This was of interest to us because the politics of the grammar had featured heavily in
Leila Bergs book.
When we looked more closely at some of the arguments that prevailed in the 1950s
and 1960s about state education, we discovered that many of these were about
preserving the status of grammar schools and the role of the 11+ examination, based
largely on intelligence testing, to determine a childs academic abilities. Although

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 48 of 64

interesting, these arguments did not take us any further forward in terms of
understanding how the comprehensive system had evolved, much less why it was
deemed to have failed. We could not, for example, find any scientific research upon
which this experiment might have been based. Nor did we find any meaningful
discussions about what it was meant to deliver. It seemed to us that the
comprehensive had evolved more by luck than judgement, and without any great
enthusiasm either.

C1.1 So what is a comprehensive school?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) it is:
a secondary school catering for all abilities from a given area
(Allen, 1990)
To some of us in the Group this definition did not make a lot of sense because there
were no grammar schools among the schools merged to form Risinghill, and the
secondary schools we had attended prior to and upon joining Risinghill did not have
too many children who had passed the 11+ examination. Others of us in the Group
did understand that the grammar schools had creamed off those considered more able,
but only understood it from a personal perspective of loss, envy and disappointment
without understanding its socio-political import11. Both views were reinforced by the
fact that Risinghill did not have an intake of the local 11+ successes after its
establishment. Although our classes were streamed within the different year groups,
the pupils were roughly at the same academic level for their age, with one or two
exceptions, in the A and B streams, and it varied considerably thereafter. There
was no proper grammar stream as commonly understood.
We soon discovered that Risinghill was not, in fact, a comprehensive school. It was
officially named Risinghill Secondary Modern School on 6 May 1959 (London
Metropolitan Archives, 2006). This was in line with other comprehensives of that era,
including Kidbrooke, Londons first comprehensive school. However, Kidbrooke


It was probably true for the majority of parents, as well as children, that they were not really aware
of the separation of children into radically different forms of education. However, in some families,
where one child went to a grammar and another to a secondary modern or comprehensive school,
the contrast in the education received between the siblings was often marked, and the opportunities
available to one over the other child stark.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 49 of 64

was never referred to as a secondary modern and neither was Risinghill.

The term

comprehensive was an unofficial - one might say rhetorical - designation.

This came as quite a surprise as we had never thought of Risinghill as anything other
than a comprehensive as per the definition, at least in intention. It was completely
different to our previous schools - which were commonly known as secondary
moderns or technical schools - so we were totally confused. Besides, this was not
how Risinghill was described to our parents at the time:
Risinghill School is a Comprehensive School. This means that it
includes all kinds of work hitherto done in separate grammar,
technical and modern schools. (IOE, MD/XX)
We should explain that, for a school to be truly comprehensive, it needs to have an
equitable spread of pupils across the whole ability range; hence the dictionary
definition. In 1960, the recommended proportions were 20 percent in each of five
ability groups12:
We were told we would have the full range of ability; that is 20%
in the top group those who would normally go straight to the
grammar school; 20% in the bottom group those just above
ESN13; and 20% in each of the three other groups; average, above
average and below average. (Laikin, n.d.)
Although this might well have been the original intention, Risinghill did not have
anywhere near the recommended spread of abilities:
But in fact we never had a pattern that was basically different
from: 0.7% in the top group; 7% in the second group; 20% in the
third group, 30% in the fourth and NEVER LESS THAN 43% IN
THE LEVEL JUST ABOVE ESN. So in fact we were a large
secondary modern school. (Laikin, n.d.)


I,e. ability groups defined by dividing into quintiles the ability range of the general population as a
whole as determined by some measure, such as IQ scores.
Educationally Sub-Normal the phrase then current to refer to those in the very lowest ability range

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 50 of 64

This difference between the theoretical and actual distribution of ability at Risinghill
is dramatic when shown graphically, highlighting the gap between advertised
intention and actual practice (N.B. Children falling in the ESN range are not
included in these figures.). In fact, inspection of the lower 4 quintiles shows that
Risinghill was not only a large secondary modern school, but one with a student
population with an ability range much less than that expected of a normal secondary
modern school taking the lower 80% of the ability range, (excluding the ESN pupils.).
This is shown graphically in Figure 1 where Duanes figures are re-plotted excluding
the top ability range and re-scaling the remaining quartiles to 100%. Over 70% of
pupils fell into the Lower Ability or Below Average ranges of ability, so the schools
population did not even match that of a secondary modern.

Figure 1: Distribution of abilities at Risinghill, excluding the top quintile. Here Ideal refers to a normal
Secondary Modern School..

When examining the politics of state and comprehensive education and the role of the
grammar school within it, all will become clear. However, although the grammar and
comprehensive are inextricably linked, unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this
book to present all the arguments for and against either. Rather, our aim in this
first chapter is to provide a basic understanding of the history of the comprehensive
model as without this knowledge it is impossible to make any sense of what happened

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 51 of 64

at Risinghill. The decisions (some might say indecisions) of that era had a significant
impact on the school.

C1.2 The Beginnings of State Education

Today we take our state-funded education system for granted and accept that all
children have the right to free education until they are 16, but of course this has not
always been the case. For centuries many children received no formal education at all.
Grammar schools started in the 16th century with an emphasis on teaching Latin
grammar to the sons of wealthy parents, hence the name grammar schools. It was
not until the middle of the 19th century and the growth of industrialisation that
education became a broad, political and social issue, with Britain needing a literate
and numerate workforce that would have the ability to manage the wide variety of
processes involved in industrial production.
The church educated some children. Charitable organisations introduced ragged
schools (free schools for poor children) and other benefactors also existed. The
majority of children, however, were not educated at all. Many generations of families
were poor and illiterate. Other than the Poor Law14 and the workhouse system15,
state help for poor families did not exist. Consequently, the majority of children
started working at a very young age to help supplement the family income.
In 1833, in a bid to start educating children who were working, the Factory Act
ordered factory owners to provide children under the age of 13 with at least two hours
of education a day (Factory Act, 1833). Unfortunately, many children remained
uneducated, as the wealthy owners did not always adhere to the legislation.
In 1870, the Liberal government introduced the Elementary Education Act. This
partially funded the state education of children up to the age of 10. The schools that
were set up were known as Board schools and across the country they were
managed in small, local areas by elected school boards. These supplemented existing



The Poor Law Boards of Guardians operated on a union/parish basis. Accepting financial help
would often mean a family would have to enter a workhouse and be separated. Education was not a
priority for workhouse children.
For a summary of the Workhouses and the Poor law see the Wikipedia at (Accessed 12 March 2014)

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 52 of 64

schools. Parents were still expected to pay school fees, but these were waived for
some of the poorer ones.
Providing education for working-class children was also seen as a means of reducing
their involvement in crime. There is a long history that documents the methods used
to educate and reform children caught up in crime. (Packman, 1981) For many years,
such children and young people were categorised in law as deprived or
delinquent16; their parents were also termed the deserving and the undeserving
Children up to the age of 16 who had committed a crime(s) and were deemed by the
courts to be delinquent and/or out of control could be sentenced to reformatories;
these were later known as borstals or approved schools and are now called secure
units. Here the focus was on education and reforming their criminal behaviour to
achieve rehabilitation into the community. Conversely, those who were assessed as
likely to start offending were placed in industrial schools, providing them with
education and vocational training as a means of helping them to find work (Parker,
1990). Education was a focus for reform in both institutions; however the children
were perceived to be different. Reformatories and industrial schools also started to
receive state funding in 1870. (Ref1, xxxx)
It was in 1880 that education became compulsory for children between the ages of
five and ten years, but this created financial difficulties for families who relied on
their childrens earnings. To ensure childrens attendance at school, the School
Boards introduced School Board Officers (later to be known as Truant Officers.).
(Ref2, xxxx)
Compulsory state-funded education effectively became free with the 1891 Education
Act. This legislation provided state payment of childrens school fees. (Ref3, xxxx)
The kind of education provided in these schools is within the passed-on memories of
our parents and grandparents. Philip Lord remembers his grandfather talking about
his schooling in the 1890s in Peckham (a depressed area of south London, then and
now.). The memory is of a rigid and authoritarian system with large class sizes - but

Although these legal distinctions no longer exist, these terms are still used to describe different
groups of children.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 53 of 64

his grandfather did come out of it numerate and literate. In contrast his grandmother
attended a small, one-class, one-teacher rural school in Hampshire, where his
grandmother told him of helping teach the younger children, and reading them stories
by the time she approached the leaving age of about 14. He also recalls his father-inlaw talking about assisting at a rural boys borstal, teaching gardening and farming.
Rough and ready are words that now come to mind of the education given.

C1.3 The Introduction of Local Education Authorities

In 1902, the management of state-funded schools was removed from the numerous
small school boards (Education Act 1902, 2 Edw. VII). These were replaced with
Local Education Authorities (LEAs), and grammar schools were brought into the
LEA funding systems. In inner London, the London County Council (LCC) took over
the powers and responsibilities from the School Board for London and the Technical
Education Board in 1904 (Ref4, xxx). By then the LCC was already a powerful and
influential body17. It had a progressive approach to education, and was ahead of the
rest of the country in building new schools and offering scholarships. A Chief
Inspector was responsible for the running of all London schools, which were
separated into divisions on a geographical basis. With a variety of schools in the
capital, the aim of the LCC was to co-ordinate the operation of all of them:
Its immediate priorities were to integrate the Board Schools and











Metropolitan Archives, 2006)

In 1913 the LCC appointed, the now controversial, Sir Cyril Burt as its first
psychologist. A major part of his role was to consider the needs of delinquent and
maladjusted children. He was also interested in the use of intelligence testing to
determine childrens abilities 18 and the debate about whether intelligence was linked
to that of nature (genetics) or that of nurture (family environment and other factors.).
At that time it seemed obvious that a childs performance at school
and indeed later on in life was related to social class, but it was


Created in 1889, the LCC was the first metropolitan-wide form of general local government. See [Accessed 27 December 2013].
Burt later used the Stanford-Binet intelligence test that was developed in 1916 and revised in 1937

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 54 of 64

not clear whether this was because better-off people were able to
give their children a better start in life, with education and so on,
or whether intelligence and educability were to some extent
inherited genetically, with a higher average level in the upper
classes. (Goodhart, 1999)
By 1918 legislation had been introduced to raise the school leaving age from 12 to 14
(Education Act 1918). This change gave LEAs, including the LCC, the additional
responsibility for providing and managing secondary schools.

The majority of

children did not, however, have the opportunity to attend a state secondary school as
very few existed. Instead, they attended the local elementary school from the age of
five until they left at 14. Here, the focus was on providing all children with a basic
standard of education to enable them to enter the workforce. These children did not
sit examinations.
It follows that the schools offering the best education were the independent and
grammar schools, where young people had the opportunity to sit the School
Certificate and the Higher School Certificate19, enabling them to apply to
universities. But they could continue their education after the age of 14 only if they
had a scholarship or if their parents could afford the school fees:
This system divided children along clear lines of social class
children from poorer backgrounds were almost all confined to
elementary schooling. Less than 2 per cent of the population
attended university. (Giddens, 2001, p429)
Therefore, the majority of school-leavers had no qualifications restricting their
access to many jobs and professions.
Although LEAs aimed to develop a coherent education service, in many parts of
England the schools were unevenly spread, and there continued to be a variety of state
and private schools operating alongside the elementary ones. These were Independent
(private) schools, Voluntary Aided (church-run) schools and other grammars in the
direct grant aided categories. There were also a small number of technical schools

The Secondary School Examinations Council was set up in 1917, who administered these

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 55 of 64

specialising in the engineering and needlecrafts trades, also commerce and other
vocational disciplines.

C1.4 Early Education Reforms

During the 1920s the debates about the most appropriate methods for educating all
children gained momentum. Simon (1997) attributes the first formal call for one type
of secondary school to the Assistant Masters Association (AMA), who passed a
resolution at its 1925 conference, whereas Fogelman (2006) reports that it was the
Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) who first
called for a multilateral school in 19xx on the grounds that it would offer more
parity in the system. This was the original name for comprehensive schools.
In London, the idea of a multilateral school was being pushed by the LCC, but the
Conservative government in power did not support this view. Nor did the idea appeal
to many in the political hierarchy who, although recognising the need for a more
equitable system, thought that integrating grammar school children with the masses
was taking equality too far. While their arguments appear to have been based on
keeping the brighter children separate, in truth it was more about status and class.
Nevertheless, the idea of a single secondary school did begin to gain some support in
government, largely due to the influence of a small group of progressive Labour MPs.
To explore the issues, several committees were set up to report on specific aspects of
childrens education.

Some of these committee reports have had an on-going

The Hadow Report of 1926 paved the way for selection by ability. Sir Cyril Burt
provided information on psychological testing for this report. He, and the reports
authors, acknowledged that less-able children would benefit from reforms in
secondary education, but they were adamant that grammar schools and selective
education were necessary to educate brighter children:
However, the dominant view of educational policy-makers in the
inter-war years was that no reorganisation should affect the status
or integrity of the grammar school but should be carried through
by the creation of separate secondary schools. Thus the authors of
the most influential of the inter-war reports on education, the
Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 56 of 64

Hadow Report of 1926, concluded that childrens secondary

education should be determined on the grounds of ability, and the
authors apparently had no doubts that it was possible to
distinguish between academic children, who would benefit from a
traditional examination-orientated education in a grammar school,
and the less able, who would benefit from courses of practical
instruction in a modern school (Kerckhoff et al, 1996)
Another important report of the period was the Spens Report of 1938 (Board of
Education, 1938). It was this committee report that first proposed the long standing
11+ examination system, used to separate children into different types of schools
according to ability and aptitude. By this time Sir Cyril Burt had left the LCC and was
now Professor of Psychology at the University College London. In this role he
provided a memorandum that was used to develop the second part of the chapter in
the Spens report on The Mental Development of Children between the ages of 11+
and 16+. The authors took the view that it was possible to determine childrens
educational abilities at the age of eleven:
We were informed that, with few exceptions, it is possible at a very
early age to predict with some degree of accuracy the ultimate
level of a childs intellectual powers, but this is true only of
general intelligence and does not hold good in respect of specific
aptitudes or interests. The average child is said to attain the
effective limit of development of general intelligence between the
ages of 16 and 18. (Board of Education, 1938)
With assurances that childrens abilities could be measured using intelligence tests,
the Spens report rejected proposals for a single secondary school that would
incorporate academic, technical and general education. Instead, the report endorsed a
tripartite (three part) schools system with academic grammar schools for bright
children, a variety of specialist technical schools for those who would benefit from
developing specific technical skills, and secondary modern schools providing a
mixture of general and vocational education for the remainder of children. The
remainder represented the vast majority of children.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 57 of 64

The Spens Report did, however, recognise that in very rural communities and underpopulated newly built areas, a tripartite system might not be viable.

In these

circumstances it was thought that a single multilateral school, serving a number of

small communities, might be more appropriate.
Some politicians and educationists, though, remained concerned about determining
childrens futures at the age of 11, believing that some children could be late
developers, and other children who passed the 11+ might not be emotionally suited to
the grammar school regime. Moreover, the evidence emerging at this time showed
that the brighter, lessprivileged child who passed the 11+ did not automatically gain
a grammar school place. Competition for these schools was fierce, and many children
were turned away because of their social backgrounds. From our research with the
Risinghill pupils we know that this state of affairs continued well into the 1960s:
In 1960, I passed my 11+ and was considered to be a clever child.
My mother was overly proud and was determined that I should
attend Dame Alice Owen School, which at the time, was situated at
the Angel, Islington. I remember going with her for an interview
and also remember her bitter disappointment when my application
was rejected on the grounds that we lived only in one room. It was
considered that I would have no scope for study; a little like
Virginia Woolf, an Owens girl needs a Room of Ones Own.
(Fisher, 2005)
So for all these reasons the case for a multilateral school continued to be argued in
and outside of government. The broad thrust of this argument was:

Greater equality in education would be achieved because all children would be

in the same school and would, therefore, have the opportunity to take
academic examinations.

Their vocational and general educational needs could be met within the same

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 58 of 64

There would be social and cultural benefits from grouping differing social
classes and mixed abilities together. Society was, after all, becoming more
multicultural, less stratified, and so was the workforce.

The landmark (Butler) Education Act 1944 introduced during a period of coalition
government, aimed to ensure that every child be given an equal chance to succeed;
this was to be based on their individual ability. The Act was wide-ranging and carried
forward many of the recommendations set out in the Hadow and Spens reports.
The Act recognised the importance of education for economic
advancement and social welfare. Its aim was to provide secondary
education for all children so that every child had equal opportunity
to obtain a place in a grammar school, regardless of family
background. Most Local Education Authorities (LEAs) interpreted
the 1944 Act to mean the provision of schooling according to
ability. (Chan, 2002)
It is worth noting that, for many people, the term secondary education for all meant
a grammar school education for all. (Chitty, 1989, p40)
A tripartite system of secondary education was introduced for all children with a
change from primary to secondary education at the age of 11. The appropriate type of
school was to be determined by the 11+ examinations, which used a variety of tests to
assess childrens verbal and non-verbal reasoning. This included mental arithmetic, a
written essay question and a general problem-solving paper:
Academic selection at age eleven the age of transition from
primary to secondary school was supposed to sort out the more
able children from the others, regardless of social background.
(Giddens, 2001, p493)
It was thought that this new system would ensure that the most academically-able
children would benefit from the education provided by grammar schools and further
education, while those attending secondary modern and technical schools would gain
from an education more suited to their perceived needs and future role in the

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 59 of 64

What is interesting is that the 1944 Fleming Report that was commissioned by Butler
(Committee on Public Schools, 1944) gave recommendations and proposals on how to
integrate and link independent schools with state sector schools, but the findings of
this report were never implemented.
Nonetheless, Butler does appear to have conceded to the mounting pressure from the
Labour Party and other influential bodies, such as the LCC, for a different type of
education. The Act did not, for example, specify that non-selective secondary schools
(in effect multilateral schools) would be unacceptable. This gave some LEAs, notably
the LCC, a unique opportunity to experiment with the provision of education:
The White Paper recognised three main types of secondary
school to be known as grammar, modern and technical schools,
but very significantly went on to say that it would be wrong to
suppose that they will remain separate and apart. Different types
may be combined in one building as considerations of convenience
and efficiency may suggest. In any case the free interchange of
pupils from one type of education to another must be facilitated.
This statement enunciates no educational philosophy or principle
and makes no statement of national policy, but it leaves the door
open to any suitable combination, and the discretion of local
education authorities is in no way cramped by any over-riding
decision by the Central Government. (London County Council,
1947, p214)
Unlike today, the LEAs had considerable autonomy to organise their schools in
whatever way they considered appropriate:
A well-known phrase described British education as being a
national system, locally administered.

In other words, the

general framework was set by national policy, but much power

resided with the LEAs who were able to determine the detail of
how they interpreted and administered this.

(Kerckhoff et al,

1996, p30)

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 60 of 64

As such, many LEAs began to develop their own, preferred structures.


implemented the tripartite system while others chose not to include technical schools,
establishing instead a bipartite (two part) system of grammars and secondary
moderns. This was because technical schools required extra space and expensive
specialist equipment. But some LEAs, including the LCC, embarked on a radical
programme of full comprehensivisation as it was called at the time. (Ref5, xxxx)

C1.5 An Education Service

How the national system, locally administered worked in practice is an important
element of the Risinghill story. For this reason, it is helpful to explain the system in
more detail.
Clyde Chitty draws attention to the dynamics of this model where the balancing of
autonomy with power and accountability within a loose framework of consensus are
described as follows:
As with all ambiguity models, organizational structure is regarded
as problematic. There is uncertainty over the relative power of the
different parts of the system. The effective power and influence of
each element within the structure is said to vary with the issue and
according to the level of commitment of the individuals concerned.
(Chitty, p3)
Dr Briault, the Deputy Chief Education Officer of the LCC at the time of Risinghill,
described the system as a triangle of tension between the school, LEA (locally
administered) and government (national system). In his view,
. . providing the sides held, the tension could be seen as
constructive and valuable in preventing the dangers which would
arise if too much power became concentrated at one point of the
triangle. (Briault, 1976, p431 quoted in Chitty, 1989, p2)
What Briault did not take into consideration, however, was the inherent conflicts
between the three points, also the divisions within the triangle. We should perhaps
explain that schools, namely the head teacher and Governing Body, were part of the

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 61 of 64

structure. As with the central government and LEAs, this section also enjoyed a level
of independence:
I will begin by saying that the local education authorities, as I see
it, will have responsibility for the broad type of education given in
the secondary schools the governing body would, in our view,
have the general direction of the curriculum as actually given from
day to day, within the school. The head teacher would have, again
in our view, responsibility for the internal organization of the
school, including the discipline. (Chitty, p23)
By the time Risinghill came on to the scene, however, the system appeared to be
grinding to a halt, largely because the observed protocols and lines of responsibility
between the three parties were becoming increasingly blurred. By way of example
the central government was wandering into areas that, hitherto, had been strictly the
domain of the LEAs, and the LEAs, in turn, were encroaching on territory that,
historically, had always been the responsibility of the heads.
Last, but by no means least, is the role of the Chief Education Officer (CEO) in the
system we have just described. It is worthwhile here turning to Derek Gillards
(1987) paper The Chief Education Officer: the real master of local educational
provision? This provides an insight into the extraordinary powers wielded by CEOs,
quoting Ribbins (1985):
On the face of it therefore, CEOs have traditionally had
considerable opportunities for exercising power, especially in
education policy making. Even as late as the 1970s this was still
clearly the case.

Peter Ribbins, for example, writing about

secondary reorganisation, says: In most of the case studies a

report presented by the CEO is identified as forming the basis for
the authoritys final decision as to the form of reorganisation to be
adopted in some cases the identification of the plan with the
CEO was so great that it was even named after him as with the
Peter Plan in Darlington, where the Conservatives grumbled

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 62 of 64

that the plan was the view of one man and one man alone.
(Ribbins, 1985)
But at the same time, a CEO was supposed to:
Implement, with care and accuracy, the decisions and policies of
the authority as expressed in meetings of the Council and
Education Committee and must never in public be critical of, or
unenthusiastic about, the decisions of the Council. (Brooksbank
and Ackstine 1984, p24)
What happened at Risinghill does, therefore, have to be viewed in the context of a
delivery system that, in our opinion, was seriously flawed. Without giving too much
away at this stage, we can tell you that there was an extraordinary level of interference
by the LCC officials in to the day-to-day running of the school:
A constructive result of this meeting, Dr Briault claimed, was that
Mr Duane radically reorganised the school into year groups to
allow closer supervision by the staff. (Anon, 1968)
Duane, for the record, did not radically reorganise Risinghill. Following a visit from
the local Inspectorate in 1962, he agreed to reorganise the first year into forms but
categorically refused to change anything else:
The wholesale reorganisation of the whole school would in my
opinion undo the work of the last two years by cutting through the
bonds formed between the Tutors and the Heads of House on the
one hand and the children, particularly the disturbed children, on
the other. (Duane, W. D., 1962)
He also refused to be coerced on the issue of discipline and punishment (another area
in which the LCC meddled) but more about that later. It is the 1944 Education Act
that we would like to end this chapter with, taking two quotes from a book by Dent
(1962, p1 and p4) that was written about the Act in 1962:

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 63 of 64

After 16 years there are still important sections of the Act not
implemented; yet nothing less than complete implementation will
suffice to satisfy the nations needs.
The Education Act, 1944, concerns intimately every one of us
man, woman, and child. It lays unprecedented obligations upon
both the public authorities and the private citizen.

Its full

implantation in the spirit in which it was conceived as well as in

the letter of its law may make all the difference between a happy
and glorious future for our country and an unhappy inglorious
one. To make it a real success, the wholehearted co-operation of
every citizen is required.
The spirit in which the Act was conceived and how it was interpreted are important
elements of the Risinghill story. So too is the question of full implementation
which, in the 21st century, has still not been achieved and indeed may be even
further off.

Proposal for Risinghill Revisited - Sheridan, Lord, Brady, Foxall & Bailey

Page 64 of 64