[The source for this is a typed document, possibly a carbon copy, with hand-written annotations, a challenge to convert to text. The original can be inspected at http://oldedwardians.org.uk/nlc/speechdays/NLC/55NLC.pdf.]
See also the 1955 speechday leaflet.
Mr. Chairman, My Lord Mayor, Master Cutler, Sir Stanley Rawson, Ladies and Gentlemen.
May I commence by referring to the fact that this Speech Day marks fifty years of the existence of King Edward VII School. The School was formed by the amalgamation of the Sheffield Royal Grammar School and Wesley College by the Education Committee of Sheffield, following suggestions made by Professor Michael Sadler of Manchester University for the improvement of secondary education in the City.
It commenced in temporary quarters in Leopold Street in September 1905 while the old Wesley College, which was a boarding school, was suitably changed to accommodate an increased number of boys as a day school. In September 1906 the present building was occupied and has continued with little change until the new Library and new extensions were added recently.
The composition of our platform visitors this evening is most appropriate to the occasion and I give a cordial welcome to the gentlemen who are here with me. Our guest of the evening, Sir Stanley Rawson, was a member of the School in 1905 and during an active and successful school career won a Hastings Scholarship for Classics in 1908, proceeding to the Queen's College, Oxford, where, after further successes in the fields of Classics and History, he became a Fellow of All Soul's. It is interesting to note that he left the quiet life of a Scholar in the Arts to become a figure in the world of industry, and served as Comptroller to the firm of Dorman Long & Co., later joining John Brown & Co. Ltd., of which great organization he is now Vice-Chairman.
He was also Director General of Machine Tools under the Ministry of Supply for two years. Reference to old School Magazines reveals that while at School in addition to repeatedly winning Classical Prizes, he shared the winning of Open Doubles at Fives, was very active in the Literary Society and Debating Society, House Captain of Clumber and a School Prefect. He also set a good example of a custom we are successfully reviving - by presenting books to the Library on leaving.
I am sure you will agree with me that we could have found no more fitting person to be with us on this fiftieth occasion.
In addition we are very pleased to have with us the Lord Mayor, our Chairman of Governors also Chairman of the Education Committee - Alderman Ballard, and the Director of Education, Mr. Stanley Moffett. They represent for us the City of Sheffield which created the School and has maintained it for 50 years. It is particularly pleasing to welcome the Master Cutler for this year, Mr. R. P. Phillips [Robert P Phillips]; he is also an Old Boy of the School and the third Old Edwardian in succession to occupy his high position. I should incidentally like to thank his predecessor, the ex-Master Cutler, Mr. W. G. Ibberson [William Ibberson], who is also here to-night, for his very kind offices in being instrumental in securing Sir Stanley Rawson's appearance with us. Sir Harold Jackson, who has long been a Governor of the School, is an old friend of ours, and as a former member of Wesley College is doubly welcome. Similarly Mr. H. W. Middleton is a former member of the Sheffield Royal Grammar School, and was Head Boy in 1895 and 1896. He is keenly interested in the present School and his son is an Old Edwardian. We give him a warm welcome. Dr. Burdekin, President of the Old Edwardians' Association for some years, is one of our strong supporters at school functions, and we are glad to see him personally as well as representing the old Edwardians. Mr. Brian Pye-Smith, who is so well known in the City, represents the Governors of the Sheffield Royal Grammar School Exhibition Fund. We are particularly pleased to welcome him here, and to express our sincere gratitude to the Trust for their provision of the new Library and very appropriately to this occasion a handsome annual addition to our prize money. This has enabled us to increase quite considerably the number and value of prizes available, particularly in the Sixth Form.
Fifty years is a very short period of life for a School to celebrate, but under the title of King Edward VII School that is our age. The earlier Schools were the Free Grammar School of James I, whose Charter dated 1604, the Collegiate School opened in 1836 and amalgamated with the Grammar School in 1884, and Wesley College which dated from 1838.
When the School opened in 1905 there were 317 boys on the roll, including a Junior School. This year we have 764 and no Junior School; it is quite evident that we did need our new extensions.
The first Headmaster, Dr. Hichens, established the tradition of hard work and examination successes, which have persisted and we hope will. There was perhaps in the early days less attention to the less academic side of school life, but that was remedied largely by Mr. Gurner and Mr. Graham who succeeded Hichens.
There are few landmarks in the history to date but 2 changes have occurred since its inception. The original School had its own board of Governors and was listed on the Headmastersí Conference. When Mr. Gurner resigned in 1927 the School was removed from the list owing to the change in constitution of the Governing Body; at the same time the O.T.C. was abolished. Mr. Graham replaced the O.T.C. by the School Scouts, of whom we now have three flourishing Troops. In 1944, as a result of the Education Act, the Junior School was closed and fees were abolished. Both sets of events caused considerable local agitation and disagreement, but are, happily for the school, safely forgotten now. The Honours Boards at the School testify eloquently to the academic distinctions gained by its boys during its comparatively brief existence; we must pledge ourselves in this Jubilee Year to maintain these to the best of our ability.
I now turn to my main business - a report on last year.
We commenced in September 1954 with 730 boys, nine new members of Staff and the new extensions. Our new members of Staff appear to have settled down very happily, and the new extensions were most gratefully occupied at once. During the year three younger Masters left us - Mr. Smith, whose work in the Classical Department and Orchestra was of high value, Mr. Lack left the teaching of Physics to take up a career in the oil Industry, Mr. Reeves forsook English with schoolboys to take on the service of education in the Army. We said a reluctant goodbye to Mr. V. J. Wrigley, who had been Senior History Master since 1946 and had taken a great interest in Chatsworth, of which he was Housemaster. Mr. Wrigley left to become Headmaster of a new Grammar school at Hemel Hempstead; we are quite certain he will enjoy his work and meet with every success [Valentine Wrigley, Apsley Grammar]; in his place we welcomed Mr. T. G. Cook, who came to us from the Senior History Post at Wellingborough Grammar School.
The Advanced Courses were still large - 90 in the First Year, 66 Second Year, and 45 Third Year. These were nicely balanced, 96 boys being on the Classical and Modern Studies Side, and 105 on the Science Side. It is good to have the Courses so well divided, particularly in these days of scientific urge, and it shows that boys are still selecting courses in accord with their abilities and desires rather than following a popular trend.
In the Scholarship competitions last year we did quite well, not as well as in the previous year, which had been a record one, but rather better than we had expected. 10 Awards at Oxford or Cambridge and 7 at other Universities was a very satisfactory performance and represented a useful range of subjects.
G. S. Ecclestone revived an old field of success of the School's by winning the Akroyd Scholarship: it is several years since we competed for this.
The 'A' Level results of the past year were probably some of the best in our records: the overall percentage of Passes or Distinctions was 93, 45 Distinctions were gained - History, Economics, Mathematics, Physics and Classics figured prominently. 16 State Scholarships were awarded on the results - a new record for the School.
The 'O' Level results on an overall picture would seem not quite up to last year's standard, though mainly sound, 77% against 79% being the overall Pass. The Fifth Forms did not do as well as last year, but the Fourth Forms did better; 4(1), 4(2) did very well. It is always difficult to compare these results owing to the fluctuation in the number of candidates and the number of subjects they take, but comparing our percentage Passes with those for the whole Examination, we were safely above except in French, Music and Art.
I continue to register a protest against one level of Pass only, though I seem to be in a minority here, from declarations we see in the Press as to the complete satisfaction found in the 'O' Level Examinations by some schools.
45 boys in all secured places at Universities by scholarships, College Examinations or on 'A' Level results: these have either commenced their Courses or will do so after National Service. I feel, therefore, taking our examination results as a whole that we can feel quite reasonably pleased.
On the games field we continued to be not too successful however. The First Eleven at Football did not secure the number of victories expected of them; the season was, however, an unfortunate one in producing many minor injuries, so that the personnel was constantly changing, and in that bad weather cancelled many fixtures. The other five Elevens, with varying numbers of fixtures, did quite reasonably, the Under-14 Eleven being particularly good. The Rugby sides all had rather poor seasons, but the bad winter weather cancelled 26 Matches, a heavy proportion of their fixtures .
At Cricket the Under-15 Eleven again did very well, but the number of drawn games makes the records of the others not so easy to assess.
Probably our most successful season was that of the Senior Cross-Country Team: their ever cheerful Captain and Secretary D. A. Elliott produced a very full fixture list and against other Schools we had first place in 15 Matches, drew first place twice, and only failed in 6 to be first as there were triangular or quadrilateral meetings. In out-of-school events the team won the Sheffield and District Cross-Country, was placed 4th in the Northern Schools Cross-Country Championship, and 5th in the Yorkshire Cross-Country Championship.
The Swimming Teams met their usual difficulty of obtaining fixtures but won the four Matches arranged, one being against Carnegie Training College. We have with regret lost the services of W. A. F. Wright and A. Weston to Universities: their contributions to school swimming over several years had been outstanding.
Badminton is now an established school game and Fives has shown definite signs of a complete renewal. Tennis fixtures are not as many as we would like, but we are hampered still by being unable to receive teams on our own courts and wistfully look to the day when we may possess some. Perhaps, who knows, the centenary year may be able to record their provision.
The weather interfered badly with the usual programme of house Leagues and Knockouts at Football. There was a real scramble to complete all competitions before the season ended.
It also completely ruined Sports Day; a more melancholy and depressing afternoon would be difficult to imagine; however, due to the good will of competitors who ran under most difficult conditions we succeeded in clearing two-thirds of the events. The Mistress Cutler, Mrs. W. G. Ibberson, braved the elements and kindly distributed trophies for these events which bad been decided. The holding over of events also caused difficulties in completion, but in all eight new records were set up.
We tried the experiment of splitting the Swimming Sports this year, holding senior and junior events on different evenings, as the number of parents wishing to attend was too great for the Bath's accommodation. The trial was quite successful and we propose to continue it; one Senior and two Junior new records were set up.
Out-of-School activities were still plentiful; Societies are many, catering for most age groups successfully.
The usual pattern of School musical events was followed. The Carol Service in the Cathedral was well attended, the Lent Term Concert was much enjoyed, but the Oratorio was poorly attended, a real pity as the production was an excellent one. We value highly the work done here, and Mr. Barnes' efforts with the Choir and Orchestra are amply rewarded.
Mr. Claypole again flouted the difficulties of using the Hall for dramatic work with a most enjoyable production of Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra", which was well supported. Particular tribute should be paid to the amount of work done by volunteers in producing scenery and effects and stage lighting.
For our Armistice Day Service we had an Address by Wing Commander Mummery from Norton R.A.F. Station. The Address at the Commemoration Service, given by Mr. R. B. Graham, a former Headmaster of the School, was a memorable one, given to a very crowded Hall and Vestibule.
Mr. Kopcke again conducted a party to Switzerland in the Summer Holiday, and there were some exchange visits with our German link school at Cologne; we should like to see more of these.
The School Year was very fully occupied and it becomes increasingly difficult to fit more in. There are now very full opportunities for boys to enter into the life of the School outside the classroom, and these are always being added to. More boys should, however, take advantage of them; particularly those who intend to stay on at School for University purposes.
The Library has been well and sensibly used, and a large number of books have been added as gifts. We are always grateful to parents and boys who present books on leaving school. At present, pending the provision of more bays, the Library is full and overflowing, but when these arrive, we shall be able to house our surplus books safely and expand again.
I think we are all doing our best to maintain and even surpass the standards set in the past. Work definitely comes first still, but there is probably a bigger programme of games and Societies than ever before. The precise forms of celebration of our fifty years are not easy to find, as the fulness of life at School leaves little time for additional activities on any large scale. We must try to make this year notable for further achievements in work, games and activities generally. When the Scholarship Examination period is over, we shall hope to arrange some forms of open evenings for parents to visit the School and meet Masters, with some entertainments from the boys. We haven't money to throw a party and we dare not ask for a celebration holiday so we must think of something far more prosaic.
At the British Association Meetings this year some pungent comments were made about semi-literate scientists and over≠specialization in schools. One must have some sympathy with the rather over-worked science student today; faculties usually demand three 'A' Level subjects, and as fast as Science advances, so do the examination syllabuses become more ponderous. As a result, the science boy at school has a full time-table with no private study periods as distinct from his Modern Side colleagues who often get many which they do not always use fully. Here the Universities definitely set the pace and Schools must follow.
After settling down to the new examination system, we now find that the Northern Universities are to alter their entry requirements, limiting the number or examinations taken to fulfil the minimum entry conditions, This may serve as a corrective to those few who always try to trim their sails to reach port with the very minimum nicely calculated and who have no use for subjects which they feel do not directly contribute. Our own aim in the Advanced Courses is to secure entry to a University for the maximum number of boys, while providing definite relief from over-specialization by means of additional subjects, but the time-table and examination requirements set some limit on how much can be done in addition to main subject work. If a boy in the Advanced Course is working fully, taking a useful part in School Games and activities, he will have very little leisure-time left for his own particular hobbies. He certainly should not find himself faced with the problem of how to employ leisure time.
I must express my most warm thanks to my colleagues on the Staff, who have continued to do so much for the School in organizing games and activities outside the classroom. the opportunities they give have increased and show no signs of being halted. I am most grateful for their help and co-operation, and for the ungrudging way they give of their own time for the good of the School. I must also thank the non-teaching staff for their very loyal service and constant sacrifice of personal convenience. We also thank the Director of Education and his staff for their assistance, during the year.