'Willingly to School' Coventry Express 1963

From the Coventry Express c 1963 - Mr Rowland was Head Teacher.

Reporter Ashley Walton and photographer Mick Thorpe Visit the City of Coventry Boarding school.

"We are not fighting pictures or the telly every night" said the tweed suited teacher. "Extra evening study is
always done, and willingly!" He was talking to me in the masters' common room at the City of Coventry Boarding School where 170 Coventry boys live in a wild and beautiful part of Shropshire.

This school, a cluster of buildings on a hill overlooking the small village of Cleobury Mortimer, a few miles from Kidderminster, could be the poor man's Eton. But a public public school is the best description. A place where boys from the ages of 11 to 15 (16) live a genuine classless existence. It offers some of the best qualities of the traditional public school without its drawbacks. It makes no difference who your father is or what kind of car he drives. Motorcycle combinations and E type Jaguars stand side by side on visiting day. There is no fagging and the results speak for themselves.

The City of Coventry Boarding school, which has been open since the summer of 1940, is the boarding school of the Coventry education Authority. In the blitz it was used as a receiving centre for boy evacuees.

And suddenly from the experiences of these boys the education people realised that living in a friendly
community with hundreds of boys of the same ages developed a strong spirit of self reliance. And that is why Coventry Boarding school is still operating today. A new school building programme is on the drawing boards. The headmaster has had to turn down hundreds of requests for places each year. There were almost 75 per cent GCE passes last year.

Parents pay according to their means. Tuition is free and the boarding fee less than the actual cost to the Authority. Parents may ask for an assessment of the actual fee which is £100 a year. The London County Council run the same kind of school at Woolverstone Hall but the fees at Woolverstone are much higher, up to a maximum of £240. The boys at Cleobury Mortimer, in the regulation navy blue blazers and grey flannels, are well spoken, well mannered and able to stand on their own two feet.

The 15 year old school Captain, David Holmes, of 62, Northumberland Road, Coventry, told me "There is little or no bullying by the upper school. If the younger boys are upset about anything they go to their housemaster. He is like a father to them. I take my GCE's in the summer and then I hope to become a draughtsman. I think the education here is of a higher standard than the normal secondary school. The classes are smaller and get individual attention."
"Although we have television here, it is not a distraction. This evening most of the upper school will be studying without supervision. Not because they have to, but because they want to."

The 42 year old headmaster, Mr Robert Rowland was senior housemaster at the LCC's Woolverstone Hall.
This is his third year as head of the Coventry School. He lives with his wife and three children Susan (13), Alison (9) and Jonathan (6 months) in a cottage in the school grounds. He has attempted to bring new ideas to the school. If a problem comes up, he gathers the House Captains together and discusses the problem with them. And in most cases he yields to their wishes. The boys flock to his small crowded study with their requests and problems.

"I hope before long to achieve a limited range of sixth form courses. To give the boys a chance at University places." He told me.

He spoke about his big problem, homesickness on the first day.. "This shows itself immediately and the boys make it worse by not taking any interest in the things going on around them. But we are soon able to get to the root of the problem, and then they settle in happily."

Eleven year old Gordon Talbot, of 172, Lockhurst Lane, Coventry, started at the school in September. He said : "When I first came I thought I wanted to go home again but then I made friends a few of the other new boys. Now i love it here. The hours of sport are terrific." The boys are allowed to watch television for a few hours each evening if they want to.

There are the usual school societies in the evening, and on Saturdays the boys can go down the village to the
cinema, or go cycling in the lovely countryside. Sport in the healthy Shropshire air takes up only the usual part of any school curriculum. Equal emphasis is placed on the arts and the sciences.

"This is not a monastic life" said Mr Rowland, "Some of the older boys have girl friends in the village. This is not frowned on, the only stipulation made is that the girl's parents know of the relationship. I would like to organise school dances. But there are just not enough girls in the nearby area."
City of Coventry Boarding school pupils go out into the world with something the secondary modern or comprehensive cannot give them. They go with a sense of independence and ruggedness, a thing not easily cultivated.

This is the Coventry Express, a weekly Coventry paper in the 1960's. Although this cover is from 1963, it may not be the one in which this article was in.

Here is the article as it appeared in the Coventry Express autumn 1963.

There was another press feature c 1966 / 7 by the Coventry Evening Telegraph, This  picture is from that photo shoot but I don't have the article. There are some photos from that session that have been sent in.

c1966 in the new Biology lab (later part of the Forest Lodge after the school became the Pioneer Centre)
Form teacher was R Mathews - in this photo - 
Back row L to R Trev Teasdel, Frankie Fazulo, Stephen Tearse. Nigel Underwood,  Alec Hudson
Front Row L to R  David Woodward, Charles Joyce, IanWoolridge, Peter Shepherd, Michael Moore.

There are many other press cuttings on the blog.

Links to other Press articles