Manplan: 4: Classroom Silhouettes


“My school would play a dual role, preparing its pupils for both citizenship and examinations in the morning and afternoon, and becoming a centre for community life in the evenings and holidays. With a resurgence of interest in community life, a school offering its facilities to the public would soon become the pivot of that locality… with people meeting and exchanging ideas and opinions the barriers of prejudice, class and age would begin to erode, and children and adults alike would be taught by example.” (‘David’, 16, The School I’d Like by Edward Blishen (Penguin, 1969) quoted in The Architectural Review, January 1970)

At the start of the new decade The Architectural Review [AR] switched to publishing the Manplan editions on alternate months with the next edition, Manplan 4, analysing educational buildings. The late 1960s was a period of great change in secondary education under the Labour Government spearheaded by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, Anthony Crosland. Under statute Circular 10/65 it became government policy to abolish selective state grammar schools in favour of comprehensive schools, a controversial process that was largely implemented by the mid-1970s. Good examples of new comprehensive schools featured were the Lyons Israel & Ellis designed David Lister Comprehensive School, Hull and Crawshaw Secondary School, Pudsey by Gillinson Barnett & Partners.

Not only were these changes driven by political ideology to correct disadvantages of the class system but also “to humanize British education” to provide better education for all and to give greater opportunities for working class pupils to reach university. Of such “divisions” in class and politics the AR noted:

“The élitist British public school system is a byword for privilege – a self-perpetuating oligarchy which brooks no interference unless it be matched with cash or brains.” (The Architectural Review, January 1970)

By the use of uncaptioned photographs of Christ's Hospital, Horsham particular scorn was reserved for this school as, “Probably the most bizarre example of British educational institutionalism is the monstrous regimentation implicit in being made to march – headed by a band – for meals.” Not surprisingly in Manplan Letters (March 1970) there were two robust ripostes from the school demanding an apology, one no less than from the inventor Sir Barnes Wallis (the school’s Treasurer) who called the article “grossly offensive”. Whilst due apology was given the AR tried to defend its stance as not being an attack on the school per se but intended as a critique of the “crazy British habit” of children being required to be “properly dressed”, i.e. wearing school uniforms.

Apart from railing against school uniforms the AR’s real message was to promote better school design along with community colleges and their perceived wider benefits to society such as sports or recreational facilities. Like ‘David’ above and the ‘Town Workshop’ of Manplan 3 the AR postulated a rather more integrated but utopian vision of society with schools set in the centre of communities. Examples highlighted include Leicester County Council’s Glenfield Frith Primary School influenced by Hertfordshire County Council’s school-building programme and Bingham Comprehensive School (now Toot Hill School) by Nottinghamshire County Council. Architects' Department.

Also see: more images of Manplan 4: The Continuing Community

Return to the Manplan Landing Page


Manplan 4: The Continuing Community

Publication date: January 1970

Series editor: Tom Rock

Consultant editor: Virginia Makins (appointed Features Editor of The Times Educational Supplement in 1969)

Guest photographer: Tom Smith   


Article by Jonathan Makepeace

27 items
RIBA51085Recreation time at Credon Road School, Bermondsey, London

RIBA51086Crawshaw School, Pudsey, Leeds: housing seen from the playground

RIBA51087Collegiate Grammar School for Girls extension, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh: the staircase tower

RIBA51088Silhouettes in classroom windows in a school in Wales

RIBA62543East Elementary School, Tooele, Utah: the internal courtyard

RIBA62658Masters and Harrovians leaving Old Schools, Harrow School, London

RIBA62660Mother kissing her son farewell as he departs for boarding school, Victoria Station, London

RIBA62662Christ's Hospital Band practising in the quad, Horsham, West Sussex

RIBA62664Teenage boys playing imaginary cricket in the playground, Credon Road School, Bermondsey, London

RIBA62665Recreation time at Credon Road School, Bermondsey, London

RIBA62666Recreation time at a state secondary school

RIBA62668Children resting at Regent's Park day nursery, Camden, London

RIBA62669Playtime at Coppice County Junior School, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

RIBA62670Signage at entrance to Glenfield Frith Primary School, Leicestershire

RIBA62671Glenfield Frith Primary School, Leicestershire

RIBA62672Children in the playground, Vittoria Primary School, Half Moon Crescent, Islington, London

RIBA62673Children catching the school bus, Great Barton Primary Scool, West Suffolk

RIBA62674Mothers waiting at the gate of a Victorian-built primary school

RIBA62675Children changing classrooms at a Victorian-built primary school

RIBA62676Fish-eye lens view of David Lister Comprehensive School, Hull

RIBA62677Rosebery Sixth Form College, Epsom, Surrey: the terrace

RIBA62678Rosebery Sixth Form College, Epsom, Surrey: a music room in the old building, formerly Rosebery County Grammar School for Girls

RIBA62679Crawshaw Secondary School, Stage 1, Pudsey, Leeds

RIBA62680Crawshaw Secondary School, Stage 1, Pudsey, Leeds

RIBA62682Collegiate Grammar School for Girls extension, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

RIBA62684Children leaving school at home time, Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan

RIBA62686The Board school and high-rise housing block overlooking the cleared site at Chatsworth, Liverpool