This is just what has happened to my blog the last hour. Today is a record. Like I said on my previous post, somebody likes the new format – even if it is in “Adwick uniform”!
For all that our school has been disparaged (mainly by those who went there after I did), and for all that its former uniform was so poorly regarded that it was already mainly lost by the time it was abolished, someone clearly is impressed with the new look of this blog. If WordPress statistics are accurate, there has been a huge leap in my popularity.
I have never had the hundreds reported by my colleague Jon Blamire, but this blog has been doing a lot better since its re-brand this Autumn. It is not unusual now for me to have two or three “likes” a day – and since I changed the style sheet last night, barring anything other than my school colours in the main body of text, I have not only had six likes – but five people have followed me! This is in the space of 24 hours! More importantly, the site is pulling about 25-30 views a day, and the trend is going up. So I’m more than happy.
I have made no secret of the symbolism being used on this re-branded blog, so someone clearly likes the (school uniform) green, white, and black colour scheme (grey was an option for girls at Adwick). However shoddy some may have thought it, in my day it was smart. Those liking this blog must think the same of it now, reused for the colours you see here.
AS for you that don’t… I have already warned everybody that I will unashamedly be bringing Adwick School to the fore at this rather poignant time. I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason. I suggest you come back sometime next year!
Yesterday (4th December) had been an exciting day. I was going to Adwick!
We had won our fight against the school authorities. For a whole month, my parents had pulled me out of Don Valley High School – as they had over a year previously. Then they had failed to get me transferred to Adwick School. Now they had succeeded.
My uniform, which we had bought after our meeting with the headmaster, now lay ready downstairs in the dining room. I could not wait to put it on. Yet my first day wasn’t until Monday. In the meantime tonight was choir practice at Woodlands Church, as it was every Wednesday.
Just before I went there – I just had to celebrate and show them! – I sneaked on my Adwick School tie, and left the house for the church. And notice! Yes they did. I was now going to the same school those singing in the choir went to. I was now also one of them!
Yesterday I received an e-post from a former pupil of the Percy Jackson Grammar School (which was the earlier name of Adwick School). I was informed that this Saturday my old school will be putting on a tour of its premisses – the last chance for those who went there to see where they grew up. During the Christmas holidays, the present academy will move out of the premisses and into its new buildings – and the older school buildings will all be demolished.
There is a Christmas Market and tour of the ‘Old School’ – the Former Percy Jackson Grammar School/Adwick School on Saturday 8th December 2012. The market begins at 10am and ends at 3pm and the tour starts at 12 noon – assemble in the reception area. This, as you may know, will be the last chance for many of us to visit our former school before it will be demolished next year. The new building for Outwood Academy, Adwick will be completed very soon and their use for the old buildings ended. They plan to move during the Christmas holidays – e-mail from former pupil.
Of course I should have liked to have gone. Unfortunately it is completely out of the question. Even if my economy allowed for a jaunt back to the United Kingdom (which it does not), I have other engagements this weekend. Nevertheless my heart will be there, and I have friends who are going. They have promised to take pictures. If they permit me to, I shall post some on this blog.
As I have maintained since the rebuild became known, although I do not oppose it – I think the new facilities are a great thing for today’s children – I will not be sending up the rockets the day the bulldozers move in. Some apparently feel differently. However, I think they are making a mistake. Whatever the failings of our teachers (I have a friend whose memories of school and Adwick in particular are not indescribably happy ones), our formative years are just that: they remain a part of us, and speaking for myself Adwick School will therefore remain a part of me.
On the other hand, I realize that it went from a school with a very good reputation, to one with serious problems, and I cannot speak for those who came after my generation…. one of whom has said that he would like to press the button the day it comes down! I still think that this marks the end of an epoch, and as such we should observe it with quiet dignity. Even if I think that they have done the right thing building new, it is still a sad day to lose the last seat of childhood authority.
Therefore as we now approach this end, Adwick School unashamedly comes to the fore of this blog. On this day, the fourth December 1979, my parents and I met the headmaster Mr Atherfold in the morning, and it was agreed that I should be transferred there. I remember that there was a system of coloured lights outside his room, saying when he was busy and when you could go in! In the afternoon my father took me to Cliffs in Doncaster, where I was fitted out with my Adwick School uniform. I was to start school the following Monday, 10th December. It seems a little strange that these dates fall exactly with the days this year, thirty three years later, just before it all comes to an end.
I should like to thank those who have promised to take pictures for me. Not everyone feels as comfortable with writing as I do, but words for visiting an old school just before it is demolished will always be found wanting. How do you express your feelings? When you see that place that once was “up there”, now very much at your own level? When what was strange and new is familiar, old and worn out? When that room you feared to approach is now just a mundane place?
So thank you to those who are going Saturday. I cannot exactly say enjoy yourselves, but I do hope that you will find the tour meaningful.
This month, with the closure of what was my school, 33 years after I was transferred there…. promises to be a little special.
In my previous post about the final countdown to Adwick School’s last day in use, I noted that everything of our school apart from one solitary building nearest Tenter Balk Lane should be demolished. This is not true. Every building that was part of the old Adwick School shall go.
I am currently studying the eight page long (and really quite verbose) planning document, whereby the condition that the academy should have to reinstate the playing fields – is recommended discharged. It is clear from this that for us who went to Adwick, the entire school shall be demolished.
I really miss my mum. In true Yorkshire style, if she said “no” she meant just that. That didn’t mean “later”, “after negotiation”, or anything other than those two letters put together. It meant “no”!
For a whole year this blog has been covering the rebuild of Adwick School, or “Academy” as they now like to call it. From the outset I was clear that I could not support the campaign to save my old school simply for the sake of it. Moreover whilst I of course have a certain wistfulness over its demise, I have praised the design of the new place because I think it is very impressive, as well as better suited to the needs of those who live there today. Nevertheless certain conditions were stipulated for the project to proceed. That these have now been dispensed with shows that for some people a “no” clearly doesn’t mean a “no”….
It has recently been reported in the Doncaster Star that the school no longer needs to reinstate its playing fields. A lot of people are quite angry about this. The argument seems to be that the facilities of the new academy are so good that compared to the old school, with its two playing fields, that what is on offer will be “better by far”. However, this misses an essential point.
Firstly no one is denying that the area of open green playing field has, and will be reduced. For one the new academy, parking, and gymnasium are all built on one of the old fields – as indeed is the new community school too. Now they are going to build a teacher training college by the side of the new academy as well, making still less green space. Yet we read from the above article that the academy isn’t going to be using the area where our demolished school once stood (and by implication) the second lower field.
This raises some very disturbing questions. For my part, I am very glad that I no longer live there. Open space is hardly a problem here in Norway. However, when I was growing up in England, and navigated daily through the maze of streets and housing estates, it was something of a relief to see the expanse of open space either side of my school. Whichever way you approached it, it was bang in the middle of two open fields. I don’t think many consider how important this is for people who do not live in the country as we are fortunate to do over here.
Already then, this space has been reduced, and it is going to be further reduced. Yet we are told that the grounds are not going to be reinstated as playing fields. That begs the question what they are going to be used for. When I read that the planning committee accepted that the grounds could be reinstated at a later date, this seems also to open the possibility that they might not. Even if no-one has any plans to redevelop the area for housing today, if the area is allowed to grow wild it will become unsightly and perhaps that will be the next proposal.
Following the English news by radio, I know that the selling of school fields for redevelopment has been an issue – not in this case but generally. So if one screws the clock back a year, to the time when permission was first being sought for the project, the question is whether people might have objected if they had been told that the area of playing fields would be taken away or very much reduced. To put that another way, if this stipulation had not been given, whether people would at all have put up with what was being proposed.
I think that the answer is “no”. Now the new buildings are almost in place, somebody wants to change the goal posts. There must be a lot of people who feel that the academy got the go-ahead on false pretences. That is why a “no” should mean “no”, not “perhaps” or “later”…
I am glad I no longer live in the Adwick area. It seems that the values I was brought up with have changed a little.
We who went to Adwick School, and its predecessor the Percy Jackson Grammar School, must now brace ourselves for the inevitable. For a whole year now, we have known that our school has been condemned, and that when the new school is built what was ours will be demolished.
apart from one solitary building in the old North wing (which was a science block in my day), nearest Tenter Balk Lane, and is now neighbour to the new Community School – will be completely demolished. What used to be our old Junior wing will be gone. What used to be our old Senior wing will also be gone. The covered way, the music block, the gym and everything that was our world – gone! *see correction
To mark this event, the Yorkshire Viking has now a countdown showing the number of days that our old school will continue to function as a school. After the Christmas holidays, the new academy will move out of its buildings, and into the new facilities. In other words, the countdown isn’t exactly a countdown to the demolition – but since that is expected shortly afterwards, it won’t be far off.
You will find the countdown to the left of the pages of this blog. Since I do not know the exact times of the school day, I have set the timer’s “zero hour” to three o’clock in the afternoon.
Today I was out at Vestbygd. It’s a little village 45 kilometres (or 28 miles) away from the municipal centre of Lødingen.
As you can see, the winter has arrived. The white stuff came earlier this week. It makes for very demanding driving, since yesterday it rained, and now the temperature hovers around zero. On my journey I saw two big lorries that had got stuck.
Fortunately I arrived at the school safely, being welcomed by the year’s first snowman. The school brass band is putting on the musical When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town, and I am playing the piano. Today we had a rehearsal from ten o’ clock until five.
Because I used to work here between 1994 and 1998, it was a strange feeling. It is almost as time has stopped still. Yet like my own school in England, this school is marked for demolition. Actually, the decision was deferred last week, but suffice it to say that this is how things are now looking.
In the breaks between our rehearsal, I walked around the school, and the experience was rather surreal. This is the one place in Norway with a connection to my own soon-to-be-demolished school. I took two of its pupils in 1997 to Adwick School. Moreover, I realized that my first meeting with Vestbygd School was this very weekend in October eighteen years ago. I had been on a youth camp with the church, and we had all slept at the school from Friday to Sunday. When the band ate pizza during our lunch break from rehearsal, I realized that the last time I was in the kitchen there was indeed on that camp!
If, as now seems likely, the school goes the way of Adwick, it is for very different reasons. Vestbygd School was built at a time when there were some 150 children there. Today there are about 23. This means that, for the council that is already cash-strapped, the buildings are just too expensive. However, their proposal to move the old people out the old people’s home and move the children and nursery there has stirred local feelings…
Still, it seems odd that at the time when my former school in Doncaster is now entering its final days, the one school that has a connection to it here might also go the same way. I shall keep you posted!
Preface – Old Article from 2000
The final seat of authority in childhood, my last school has (to my thinking) acquired an aura of mystique. As I have commented in another post before they were demolished, its old buildings were all that remained of a world that has since passed.
Trying to see when that world actually ended is a heavy exercise in the existential! Of course at the simplest level, it ended at about three o’clock on Thursday, 21st May 1981. That was the day before I was supposed to leave, but for fear of some unpleasant things that were rumoured for the 22nd May itself I had decided not to bother going in that last day. On this final afternoon, I thought I was being very brave “twagging” the very last period, in order that I could slip out unnoticed well before the school bell, and hiding out in my final minutes completely unnoticed in one of the music department’s practice rooms!
Yet of course, I am talking about something more than this. For in the immediate aftermath of my schooling, even the first two years after I had left, I did not think that Adwick School had become any different from the school I had known. It was still the place I used to go to, and nothing more. Eventually, as my own childhood began to recede into time, I began to see my school in more nostalgic terms.
At this time I still had active contact with people in that area, and between the years 1985 and 1988 I first noticed some changes to the uniform that I had worn. This was when I observed pupils leaving the school at the end of the day. Those changes were not very large ones. Yet for the first time there then was a clear distinction between that time I remembered and the school world I saw now.
In 1988 I took up a place at the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield. Sometimes I should return by bus at the weekend. This invariably passed Adwick School just as school was ending. In my years at Huddersfield, I thus noticed the continuing changes to what had once been a very smart uniform. By then it was seeming far less strictly observed, and the overall changes were much more noticeable.
Having emigrated from the United Kingdom in 1991, I was to have yet one more experience of the school world at Adwick. This was in 1997, when I travelled back there with two Norwegian school children. One of them, indeed, borrowed my old school tie, and they were enrolled at the school for half a day. However, by now many pupils were not wearing the uniform, or only parts of it, and I had the impression even then that its days were drawing to an end.
In 2000, a year before my father passed away, I wrote a small article concerning this on my home page – the blog wasn’t invented back then! This article was subsequently revised after my father had died, and indeed after the uniform had finally been replaced. In 2002, Adwick School was renamed Doncaster North Technology College, and together with the new branding for the school, the old uniform was replaced by a modern dress code.
I am aware that the older Doncaster North Technology College, which itself has now been superseded by the new Outwood Academy Adwick, called their dress code a “uniform”. However for the purposes of this discussion, I prefer to restrict the term “uniform” to a certain type of school clothing. The technology college’s “uniform” is far better described as a dress code for these purposes. Nevertheless, from what I can gather about the new academy, there is once again a uniform, as smart and strictly applied as ours in my days. That is however completely different to the green, white and black uniform we wore at Adwick School.
I am republishing here my earlier article, after its revisions in 2002. Take yourself back therefore to that year. These are my observations regarding the decline and ultimate loss of the Adwick School uniform…. They are only my opinions, and in no way meant to be authoritative!
Note: this article was first published in year 2000, when the last vestiges of school uniform still existed at Adwick High. The only changes made are therefore those of tense. For example, “traces of its distinctive look could still be seen” was originally “traces of its distinctive look can still be seen”.
The article is otherwise republished exactly as it was first put out on the Internet, below.
Observations on School Uniform
Adwick School had a classical English school uniform. Traces of its very distinctive look could still be seen as recently as 2001, when formerly speaking the school still retained it. However by then, there could be little doubting its decline, compared to its heyday in the seventies.
That this is so I can vouchsafe myself. When I was a pupil at the end of that period, I did know about the practice of wearing the school tie in such a way that only a tiny bit could be seen poking out of the knot. However, this was then fairly new, regarded as scruffy appearance, and the vast majority of us still wore it conventionally. Indeed house tutors would upbraid us if our ties and uniform were not neatly, and correctly worn.
This photograph to the right admittedly shows my tie in a position that would have earned such an admonishment. Yet it was taken, as I recall, at the very end of the school day, and the “slack” tie shows the photograph to be genuine: schoolboys did not as a rule pay too much attention to detail unless teachers made them. What the photograph does clearly show is the school tie with the correct knot (as opposed to the “scruffy” versions described above that later became both fashionable and, indeed, the rule rather than the exception).
Documented too are all of the uniform’s items waist up, with the sole exception of the school scarf. Had I been conscious of the photograph’s ultimate historical value to this discussion, I would definitely have taken my scarf along with me – but such things had of course never dawned on me when this photograph was taken. I was no doubt counting down the minutes to the bell (for home-time).
The photograph being old has required a good deal of editing on the computer, and this is the best I can do. I have been able to bring the green back to the blazer and tie (which had all but gone on the original), but to make this green colour like it was when the photograph was taken would unfortunately make me look rather “seasick” in the face.
Shown too is the distinctive black V-neck, which disappeared in the eighties shortly after I left school. The green and white colours of the school’s green, white, and black scheme made two stripes at the “V” of the neck and at the arms, which were folded in at the ends – though I cannot now remember how those stripes were, whether they were right at the point where the hands came out, or further up the fold.
Not shown is the equally distinctive Adwick School logo on the breast pocket. This took the form of bold black initials “AS” on a white background that filled the square of the pocket. Below this was a so-called “flash” that denoted the House (pupils belonged to Priestley, Delius, Rhodes or Moore Houses).
The Priestley flash I wore was yellow, the others were blue, green and red – if my memory serves me correct, though I cannot remember which colour corresponded to which House. The name of the House was written in clear black letters over this colour background.
The Adwick School Sixth Form also had a uniform. That was certainly not in existence a year ago, and given that I did not stay on after 16 years at school, I regret that I cannot remember the details of how exactly it was composed.
The Uniform Begins to Change
Not long after my departure from Adwick in 1981, the uniform began to change. The neighbouring school, Don Valley High School lost its uniform entirely (at least in the stricter sense of the word “uniform” required for this discussion), and although the Adwick uniform remained times were a changing.
Between the years 1985 and 1986, I observed that the first casualty of these changes was the V-neck pullover. The majority of children were now wearing plain black V-necks, without the colour stripes at the “V”. These would be clothes bought from ordinary shops, and not specially tailored uniform clothes. A very few did have the old patterns, and I suspect these were children from the more well to do areas of Sprotborough – which was still a part of Adwick’s catchment area at that time.
The V-neck became completely discarded soon afterwards. This happened in the early nineties, and by 1997 when I visited Adwick with two schoolboys from where I now live, I was told that the V-neck was still “there” theoretically – but nobody would be seen dead wearing it. Indeed I noticed how, despite the cold September air, pupils would go to school with but the protection of a shirt, their designer winter coats open.
The latter indeed, in all kinds of sundry colours now masked the look of uniform, at least when the children were outdoors. I had observed moreover that the blazer too seemed to be on the way out: the answer seemed to be to go to school without it, with an outer designer coat for protection from the elements. At the time of my visit, though, there were still plenty blazers to be seen, but those dropping them altogether were quite noticeable.
The tie was by now either not worn at all, or worn with most of the tie tucked into the shirt, and only the tip end showing out of the knot. I had the distinct impression then that the uniform’s days were numbered.
As good as all girls now wore trousers – not that there were anything wrong with that I hasten to add – but because these girls had so many colour alternatives, and because of the outer clothing that everybody wore over the uniform, the whole point did seem to be lost. The uniform no longer existed in the strict sense, though a weakened impression of uniform did admittedly hang on for dear life.
Important note: this article was revised in 2002. Outwood Academy Adwick has now reintroduced school uniform. This is a very smart one too, using purple and black with an earthy yellow stripe. See the official website for the academy. This article was written at a time when uniform (as I prefer to understand the word) had been abolished. I did not foresee a time it would ever return again, as it has with the academy. That is therefore the context of the final paragraphs below.
It was therefore, regrettably only a matter of time before someone took the by then inevitable step of abolishing the Adwick Uniform. At the end of the day, a uniform is the expression of the community that wears it; and when there is no consensus for keeping it, no amount of force will save it. There is a world of difference between the last dying vestiges of Adwick Uniform and its living, proud expression of the former generation.
In our day, the uniform fulfilled a role, and both we and our parents wanted it. Yet to be fair too, that was a bygone age, with different values. Today the community had to make a choice: it had either to abolish school uniform altogether or put its weight behind the concept. Clearly it has chosen to do the first.
Now the Adwick uniform is history. It is my firm opinion that whatever the rights or wrongs of its abolition, the uniform is [also] important history. Children today and tomorrow should know about it, because it was an essential part of being a child in school for many generations. History is about how we understand ourselves, and with the demise of classical school uniform at Adwick, it is even more important to keep it living in historical discussions and study.
Description of the Older Uniform
Girls Green or grey skirt; otherwise as boys except blazer optional
Boys White shirt
School Tie (pictured) – green, white, black diagonal stripes
Green Adwick Blazer
Black V-neck – green and white stripes at “V” and arms
In addition came the optional school scarf. This had parallel stripes of green, white, and black – though interestingly the black colour band was a little larger than the green colour band. The white band came in the middle, and like the stripe on the tie was the smallest.
The school scarf was never widely used. I had one, but unfortunately I have no pictures of it.
The school tie I still have today. It is pictured at the top.
Since my Norwegian blog was launched last year, I have maintained a twin blog system. I have one blog for English, another for Norwegian.
I intend continuing thus. The system has served my blogging needs very well, and further allowed me to be much more radical in my Norwegian (since May this year I have favoured Nynorsk over the more usual Bokmål). Nevertheless the matter relating to my former school merits coverage in both blogs. Because of this, I have also made an exception in just this case alone, and you will find an English translation of the original Norwegian post on the Norwegian blog itself.
The translation is but that, and is therefore on a separate page. The alternative would have been to put the translation on this blog, as I have before. However, in this case both blogs will be covering what effectively is the end of an important part of my formative years. That is why I feel I have to cover these developments on my personal blogs. It is “front page” stuff in a sense.
Both blogs will therefore continue with their own separate identities, but the Norwegian one will also cover this story from its own angle.
I am going to commit blasphemy right now. As you all know, my recent posts have been somewhat affected by developments going on back where I grew up. I have now seen what they propose to do….
I am really sorry, to all who wanted to save our old school – but frankly, the plans are fantastic! If anything, once the old school buildings are destroyed, there will be more green space than there is now. The new school is to be built, a very impressive school at that, adjacent to the Great North Road.
So I wish them well. As for those who yet have some wistful longing for what now passes into history, a record of that shall also be made, in accordance with and as a condition of the selfsame planning permission that authorises the new facilities (I use the word “shall” quite deliberately, by the way, as opposed to the ordinary and usual auxiliary “will”).
You can read the entire proposal here http://tinyurl.com/6d73maz
I have only one word for this. It is this: WOW!