Friday, May 30, 2008

1968 in South London (2): Brockley school students

In Lindsay Anderson's 1968 film If, Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) leads an armed revolt in a private school. Events at Brockley County School in Hilly Fields (now Prendergast School) were not quite so dramatic, but there was discontent nevertheless:

“Three boys at a South London grammar school – all members of a national campaign to get greater freedom for pupils –were suspended yesterday after a boycott of the school prizegiving. Mr H.I. Jones, headmaster of Brockley County School, told them they must stay away until he has seen their parents.

One of the organizers of the boycott, aged 15, said last night: ‘We hoped to have the entire school of about 550 pupils staying away’. But about 30 in all, from the fifth and sixth forms stayed away. ‘We did not object to the prizegiving as such, just to the fact that attendance was compulsory’ he added. ‘We do not like the suppression of the individuality of pupils. At present they are not allowed to think for themselves. I agree there has to be some discipline and organisation in schools, but I do not think it should be carried on the way it is now’.

He complained of ‘stupid traditions such as speech day’. Some masters were also sympathetic with their campaign. ‘All the boys who boycotted the evening were punished in some way, unless they gave a good reason for not being there. Some were given a large imposition, and I understand, some were caned’. One of the other boys said: ‘Our campaign is for the abolition of examinations and uniforms’".

(Source: Times 9 November 1968)


MacDuff said...

I must have been ahead of my time then. My last appearance in connection with Brockley County was at a ‘speech day’ round about 1961. At the end of the event the audience rose as Spike (The same evil H I Jones Headmaster you mention here) and the other masters and dignatories left the stage and walked up the aisles. I however remained seated and stared at Spike as he led the march from the stage. I was pleased to see him get redder and redder with rage and as he passed me two master peeled off the procession and manhandled me out of the theatre but they failed to save his acute embarrassment I am glad to say.

Transpontine said...

Sounds like you can take credit for kick starting the 1960s... By the way are you the Man from Catford in exile?

MacDuff said...

No but I have visited the said gentleman on occassions.

Anonymous said...

Your Spike was not all bad, he visited my father in 1960 after 'O' levels and told him that I should be allowed to stay on for 6th Form so as to go on to University. My father refused, so I joined the RAF.

Anonymous said...

hey,didnt realise we were famous,anyone remember the leaflets we put in the programs?Thanks to the lewisham anarchists for there support