Praise Famous Men
Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us — not lose them in a community hub or invite further OFSTED criticism.
“Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us,” from Ecclesiasticus chapter 44 verse 1 in King James version of the Bible (and my reading includes women and mothers also). This verse comes to mind on my reading both the recent OFSTED inspection report of the Kibworth Academy and also recent Parish Council agendas and minutes which now refer to the former Grammar School Hall as the Community Hub.
In his foreword to the 1957 History of Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School Mr. Leslie Daw (the last Head to live in School Road’s 1725 Headmaster’s House) wrote:
“Happy is the nation which has no history, we are told: … but happy is the school whose traditions are firmly rooted in past centuries.”Leslie Daw
In his introduction the author, the late Bernard Elliott of Oadby (no relative of the headmaster Elliot – with only one ‘t’) quoted a letter written in 1921 to the Director of Education for Leicestershire, from the then Headmaster of Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School, Mr. C. L. Ryley, which stated,
“As far as I can find out, the School appears to be one of the oldest in the Kingdom”, and then continued “Mr. Ryley’s assertion is indeed true.”Bernard Elliott
i) The schools at Oakham and Uppingham founded in 1584, Rugby 1567, Oundle 1566, are all newcomers compared to the foundation of the school which supplies us with Prime Ministers – Eton – launched in 1440. But even that is a newcomer compared with Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School, continuous secondary education (Grammar, High and Academy) in this village, possibly since 1359, certainly since 1417.
ii) Quoting from Bernard Elliott’s School History,
“The earliest document in the chest, and one which is most important for tracing the school’s origins, is a charter dating from 1359. In it two men, Robert Chapman of Kibworth Harcourt and Roger de Stanesby of Smeeton Westerby, joined together to hand over to a body of trustees certain property in Smeeton which brought in an annual rent. The trustees to whom these lands were conveyed were William Weston of Carlton Curlieu, William Hayne and Roger the Clerk of Kibworth Harcourt, William Swan and William Langton of Kibworth Beauchamp and Richard White of Smeeton.The main reason indeed for the charter is the naming of the trustees who were to control the property.”Bernard Elliott, School History
iii) A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred by J M Lee and R A McKinley. Referring to the 17th and early 18th centuries notes applicants were to be
“well entered into the spelling of words”, “the hours of work being 6 or 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. every weekday.”J M Lee and R A McKinley, A History of Leicestershire: Volume 5
There were three major advances in this long history, under the headships of John Elliot (1927-1955), Leslie Daw (1955 – 1964 – continued at Oadby Beauchamp) and the second head of Kibworth High, David Still (1969 – 1993). Sixty one years with only three head teachers.
There’s a stability lacking in today’s education I think. I feel immensely privileged, as pupil or teacher, to have known them all.
John Elliot who, having arrived at a school with 35 pupils, had seen, by my time as a pupil, a 1400 per cent increase in the roll.
Leslie Daw, whose handwritten letter on the death of my mother I still treasure, though the homemade cake home delivered by the deputy head has long since eaten.
Lastly David Still, (doubtless reading this issue!) encouraging and receiving the active support of parents/carers from a vast swathe of S.E. Leicestershire that still shapes the distribution area of this community newspaper.
However 2022 finds me aware that we seem to be witnessing centuries of excellence being handled somewhat dismissively by the present powers that be.
I almost agree with the claim on the Mead Educational Trust website that “together we make a positive difference” except that I would certainly omit the word positive. Further, the claim on the same website that “Kibworth Mead Academy … aims to provide every pupil with the outstanding education they deserve and to empower them to achieve great things” is something Kibworth has not only aimed at but has achieved for several centuries.
However I am quite confident to leave urgent necessary improvements at The Kibworth Academy to the new head, his staff and the Academy Council (Governing body). Indeed, I hope all of us in the local community wish them well in their urgent task.
However I do feel some practical comment is required to address changing the name of the Grammar School Hall and whilst I hear the view that as it’s not a school now visitors may have difficulty finding it, I would point out that New Road isn’t new, The Square is triangular with a round island, Weir Road hasn’t got a weir, Meadowbrook has no meadow and the brook not all that prominent, whilst Springfield has neither spring nor field – but the Parish Council does not suggest ‘updating’ such terms. As a nondriver I thought helping us to find our way was the purpose of Sat. Nav.
I believe we owe it to great and famous men and women to leave the Grammar School Hall name as it was, is now and hopefully forever shall be.
And further, that in addition to the badges (not logos) of KBGS and that designed by the late Corral Sutherland for KHS which are displayed therein at present, the redesigned community premises (which I support) should also display some significant dates and celebrate some of the pupils who have contributed to continuous secondary education in Kibworth over the centuries, possibly including some/all from the following alumni, (recently updated by me with sincere apologies for omissions and much appreciation of research by the late Dr. Peter Lee, ex KBGS, onetime Provost Wentworth College, University of York)
- Elizabeth Baermann (1957) State Scholarship (post WW II, these scholarships were uncommon and eagerly sort after.)
- Andrew Carter Composer; songman @ York Minster-founder Chapter House Choir, York. John Chapman Head of Leighton School (Quaker based)
- Dan Cole – Leicester Tigers, England, British & Irish Lions
- C. B. Cotterill (1947) State Scholarship.
- Stephen Daw Staff of Birmingham Conservatoire – distinguished authority on J.S.Bach John Deacon – Bassist for QUEEN
- Frank Dunlop – International theatre director; Director Edinburgh Festival 1984-91 D.A. Greenwood ( 1947) State Scholarship.
- Anne Evans (1952) Open Scholarship
- Norman Higgins Composer ; Pianist:
- Peter Lee – Provost Wentworth College, University of York : PhD for a thesis on “Infinitely Divisible Stochastic Processes” (1966). His book “Bayesian Statistics: An Introduction “(1989) is a standard textbook
- John MacGregor CVO, – Diplomatic Service. ( New Delhi, Prague, Paris, Düsseldorf) H.M.Ambassador to Poland – H.M.Ambassador to Austria
- Angela Malsbury Professor Royal Academy of Music
- Bill Maynard – British comedian and actor
- Peter Nutting Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Violinist
- Eric Preston (1951) State Scholarship
- Kate Sandford (nee Miller) State Trumpeter Household Cavalry.
- P. Sharpe (1948) State Scholarship
- Keith Smith Choral/Orchestral Conductor
- Howard Riley – LCFC (1961, 1963 F.A. Cup finals)
- Peter Wilby – Editor of ‘The Independent on Sunday’ (1995–6) and of the ‘New Statesman’ (1998–2005).
ROLL OF HONOUR WWI 1914–1918.
A. A. Adams W. S. Alien E. Bolton A. Carnegie C. W. Coleman J. H. Cox A. R. Hubbard T. C. Jesson B. G. C. Pell P. Searson-Mawby E. Smith. J. W. Sturgess A. Warner H. Webb
ROLL OF HONOUR WII 1939–1945
F. C. Brown J. W. Brown H. J. Couling C. W. Cross A. B. Potts
What a history of continuous education now almost reduced to two highly critical OFSTED reports and its history hidden in a hub. How will future generations judge us for that?
This is not me living in the past, hankering after the past through rose coloured spectacles, but rather celebrating Kibworth’s past so that the next generation’s future can be the richer.
I hope that consultants, designers and planners – indeed all involved in seeing through this potentially excellent concept of an upgraded community building, are as qualified in Kibworth local history as in their day job. Because generations will ask what we were doing at this present if we ignore achievements of the past in the name of future progress.
Hence the suggestion of a prominent wall display, a dedicated space within the redeveloped GSH to celebrate the great and famous men and women, as also hundreds who attended as a Grammar or High school, simply doing their best, and to append Academy students in future years.?
“…..happy is the school whose traditions are firmly rooted in past centuries – L. T. Daw 1955
Trainee teacher KBGS Teacher KHS.