A Short History of Secondary Education in Shepshed
I was inspired to write this short history when I heard that George Mallory, the first headteacher of secondary education on our campus, died recently (2014) aged 99.He wrote a history of the first 100 years of education in Shepshed, 1875-1975.Shepshed Library has copies of this, and it’s been my source for the early information in this article. It’s a lively account, and its final sentence reads, ‘No one can predict the path of progress in the next hundred years, but certainly if the direction of the last hundred years is maintained, the future is bright with promise’.We all endorse that expectation.
The 1944 Educational Act ensured all young people had access to secondary education. In Shepshed, Hall Croft School (where the Co-op is now) provided secondary modern education as well as a long tradition of evening classes. Eleven year olds who passed the 11+ went to Grammar Schools in Loughborough or Coalville.
Stanley Western, Headteacher from 1949, had come from Cambridgeshire which already had well-established practice in community education.And Stuart Mason, Director of Education for Leicestershire viewed Shepshed as ideal for setting up the first Community College in Leicestershire.This hope was dashed when Ivanhoe College in Ashby opened with Stanley Western as its first Headteacher. George Mallory took over as Headteacher at Hall Croft Secondary Modern School in 1954. He soon realised that the system for separating children into passes and failures at eleven was unjust. To help redress the balance, Hall Croft offered an extra year beyond the school leaving age, so that students could take some O-levels.
In 1957 the much awaited new school was ready. What to call it? George Mallory thought of the name of the land which the school was built on “the Ingles”. It didn’t sound quite right for a school. Perhaps Ingles was a corruption, over time, of Hind Leys “meaning the back fields”, being those furthest outside Shepshed on the Garendon side. True or not, Hind Leys Secondary School and Community College was the name accepted by the Education Committee.
To quote George Mallory’s book, “The contrast between Hall Croft and the new site had to be seen to be believed. The beauty of the countryside to the north, south and east still fills me with joy and wonder. The approach along Forest Street gives no indication of the magnificent country which surrounds the playing fields”.
The new school was officially opened on June 11th 1959 by Alderman Sir John Corah, whose grandfather had been a framework knitter in Shepshed. It had been expected that pupils from Hathern would attend Hind Leys, but to relieve pressure on Humphrey Perkins in Barrow-on-Soar – the children from Woodhouse Eaves came to Shepshed.
The Swimming Bath Committee had already formed in 1958. On April 1st 1959, Ian Black, British Champion Swimmer cut the first turf from the site, and on 25th June 1960 it was officially opened by Bert Kinnear the A.S.A. National Coach and the first lengths were swum by Diana and Chris Wilkinson, Olympic swimmers.The roof followed in 1964 and the changing rooms in 1966.
Meanwhile, Leicestershire’s solution for providing comprehensive education for all, the Leicestershire Plan, was making steady progress across the county. In Shepshed, the voluntary fifth year (now Year 11) was so well established, and the transfer to Coalville Grammar School or Loughborough College School was going smoothly, the injustices of the eleven plus were largely defeated.However, in 1967, reorganisation once more took place, and Hind Leys High School was born. This was a middle school for 11-14 year olds, after which Shepshed children transferred to the College School (later Burleigh, now Charnwood College) and Woodhouse children to Rawlins in Quorn. The weakness of the system was that, with school leaving age still 15 there was little point in transferring for one year, so those who wished to leave at 15 stayed at the High Schools. In 1972, the school leaving age was raised to 16, and all pupils moved to the Upper Schools for the remainder of their secondary education.
The Leicestershire Plan was a pioneer in the introduction of comprehensive education,and Leicestershire was viewed nationally as providing stimulating and fair education for all. However, the two tier system has its limitations, with pupils spending just three years in the High Schools, then having just five terms at the Upper School to prepare for public exams. Stuart Mason, in his last years as Director of Education before retirement, made a further modification to the system, by establishing four year High Schools at Bottesford, Castle Donington and Shepshed (others followed, at South Charnwood and the High Schools on the south perimeter of Leicester). Pupils and staff in those High Schools now had a four year span of time to ensure delivery of an appropriate curriculum.
Mr Mallory’s book ends at his retirement in 1975 as he looks north across the campus to where Hind Leys College is being built.
So, by 1976, pupils no longer had to go to Loughborough to complete their education, but transferred, along with pupils from Castle Donington, to Hind Leys College, for 14-19 year olds. At some point, the community provision was also transferred to the College. So by the late 1970s, there were two educational institutions on the same campus with Hind Leys in their names: Hind Leys High School and Hind Leys Community College. This proved desperately confusing for delivery services, with anything and everything frequently arriving at the wrong school. So the High School agreed to change its name to Shepshed High School.Early in the 1980s, demographics provided enough pupils for 8 forms of entry to the High School; 9 forms in one particularly large year group. During the 1980s, pupils from Woodhouse Eaves stopped coming to Shepshed High School, going instead to Humphrey Perkins which meant they transferred to Rawlins in Quorn with their fellows rather than transferring to Rawlins from Shepshed.
The 80s and 90s saw changes of leader at both schools, and eventually the sad removal of community funding from the campus. This is missed enormously by the community and is one of the many challenges for the future.
By the turn of the new millennium, many High Schools built across the county in the late 1950s were showing serious structural faults.Plans for replacing ours culminated in our superb new building, opened in 2009. The schools also developed expertise in providing appropriate education for pupils on the autistic spectrum, and the old Year 6 building has been remodelled to provide an Enhanced Resource Provision for these pupils.
By the end of the first decade of the new millennium, we had the unique position of both school leaders considering moving on at the same time, a trigger for the two governing bodies to consider how to manage the future of education on the campus. The first step was to produce a single governing body, which began in January 2012, with the rather clunky title of the Shepshed Hind Leys Federation. Governors now had the power to seek a single Principal to lead both schools, in the first step towards providing secondary education in Shepshed as a single school, dedicated to continuing ensure the best experience we can for the pupils in our care. We are steering our schools through a complex set of structural changes, from the national drive for schools to become academies to local moves for age range change, which will return our 10 year olds to their primary schools. We are on this journey, with governors delighted to appoint Matthew Parrott as Principal from September 2013, and steps to ensure cohesive education across the campus are underway.
After the summer holidays in 2017, we shall re-open as Iveshead School,at last providing education in a single establishment, for students aged from 11 to 19. The name was chosen to represent a new era, but also as a name with secure geographical links to Shepshed. Iveshead is the name of the high ground which overlooks Shepshed – there are wonderful views from the top. We look forward to the wonderful education that Iveshead School will provide for all the students that attend in the future.
Chair of Governors June 2016