The changes that followed James Callaghan's Ruskin Speech of 1976 with the greater role of central government in education were starting to take hold. I mention this as an education to pupils and parents reading this unaware of the changes and demands this placed on teachers. The introduction of schemes of work and the National Curriculum in its many forms and adaptations have forced endless revisions to schemes of work. The change from CSE & GCE to GCSE (and countless changes to the specifications since), A levels to AS and A2, with GNVQs introduced and then subsumed into the A level framework as Vocational A level , end of course exams to modular, coursework to controlled assessment. The introduction of appraisals, school league tables, performance management devices, value added, department handbooks, The Children Act, boarding inspections, Health and Safety and the world of risk assessments, school inspections with Ofsted taking over the role of HMI, or Independent School Inspectorate in the Independent Sector, exam inspections, fire and health inspections. All of the above operate as a back drop to the huge cultural changes in independent education.
Kingham Hill has been no more or less been impacted by the changes around in the independent sector. As I joined the school, the farm was in the process of being wound up, the sale of which had financed the refurbishment of the boarding houses to make them the current semidetached arrangements of today rather than the integrated homes of the Founders model. Plymouth had vacated what is now Kingham Field House and moved to its current location; with Norwich moving to what is now Severn house. It was all boys and all boarding. This made for interesting challenges for those producing drama productions utilising the daughters of staff or arm twisting some boys to take on female roles. The other side of the equation was the strength of boys sport. Once we boarded a number of coaches to Rendcomb at the end of the Christmas term, with 3 senior teams, and A & B teams at under 15, if not at other age groups down through the years.
With a smaller number of staff, the day off was an aspiration, as duties could also fall on a Sunday for all staff. The teaching week was a full 6 days. For houseparents the day off plus the entitlement of a couple of Sundays off meant the house tutor was expected to cover these. The Christian Unions and other societies took place in the evenings after prep or for the seniors on a Sunday evening.
For the pupils time out on a weekend was frowned upon as an erosion of community and house spirit. To stop everyone going crazy in the house on a Sunday, the afternoon was broken up with a compulsory lock out for an hour and then a compulsory letter writing slot before tea and then an evening in front of the TV. The half term in February was a long weekend with the Friday and Monday off. Holidays must have been longer, but then they always passed more quickly than term time.
The delivery of lessons has changed hugely over the years. Worksheets were an excitement and produced on Banda Machines which used a spirit base to leave an impression of an inked sheet written by the teacher, or more likely text book oriented with monochrome illustrations of diagrams or photographs. Now we have full colour text books, the internet, interactive white boards, computers etc. All of this makes the material of greater interest for both the pupils and teachers but with a reduced shelf life depending on your subject.
The market forces have helped move the school forward and included the embracing of learning support or Greens as Kingham pupils know it, EAL, ESOL or whatever term is used became necessary with the increase number of pupils joining originally from Hong Kong but now from a varied mix of nations and a regular immersion language experience for our friends from Torgelow, Germany. The appearance of girls some 20 years ago not only lead to a change in uniform but softened the school from the hard edge it had become as a single sex school. The boarding only restriction was lifted with the introduction of day pupils, and most recently the accommodation of American pupils and the accompanying accreditation requirements.
The school over these decades has faced many challenges and responded to changes. Stagnation at the school has never been and will never be an option. With large numbers of both pupils and staff passing through its doors over the years the glue that has maintained the ethos and tradition of the school has been the Founders vision. Reinterpreted by successive generations it remains the core mission, that of offering a place for those who have been neglected by society, a melting pot of an eclectic range of class, ethnicity and backgrounds, but which seeks to give them something far more fundamental than a mere home and education, a start for life. It has sought to give them the source of life itself through pointing each generation to the person of Christ through the Gospel of redemption leading to eternal life. Without the sustaining hand of the Lord and His grace, Kingham like so many other small independent schools would have folded. The miracle first started by Charles Edward Baring Young more than 125 years ago continues through a formula of Trusting the Lord and waiting on His grace and guidance looks set to continue for many years to come.
Written by Nigel Randay
Nigel, or 'Mr Randay' as most boys and girls will better know him, is a member of staff at KHS and has been for a considerable length of time. The team here at KHSD would like to thank him for taking the time to write this article.