Cannock Grammar School


The early years.


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Cannock Grammar School was unique; it was the first grammar school to be built in Staffordshire after the second world war. Previously children awarded a grammar school place had had to travel to Stafford, Rugeley or Walsall, so on September 8th , 1955 Cannock Grammar School came into being and the first pupils were admitted – 96 of them, all so smartly dressed in grey and green, bearing on their blazers the school motto ‘Live Worthily'. To have a motto in English was also unusual as most established grammar schools had theirs in Latin. In a much later cutting from the ‘Chase Post' Cannock Grammar School was remembered for its ‘ novel design and the strong views held by its first headmaster, Mr. James Pomfret, who, when appointed, was one of the youngest and most progressive headmasters in Staffordshire'. A tour guide produced at the time of the official opening in October 1956 stated that it was built in distinct blocks to minimise any subsidence problems. Each block contained six classrooms or four practical rooms.

For so many years parents and pupils had been waiting to have their own grammar school and there was no shortage of able pupils to join it. An ambitious, pioneering project – a new school, and enterprising timetable to give an all-round education and a young staff willing and able to set it on its way: an exhilarating experience for all concerned. To quote from the first edition of the school magazine "Chenet" in 1959 "the present pupils have the opportunity of enjoying the stimulating experience of shaping these traditions and witnessing the successes which their mental and physical efforts have created".

Of new developments and introductions there were plenty as future editions of the school magazine testify, but in 1955 with a nucleus of eight members of staff, the Headmaster and school secretary, Cannock Grammar School was born.

These were:

At the same time 135 pupils of the existing Cannock High School and some of their staff were accommodated in the building. The two schools retained their separate identities but functioned for most purposes as one community. The administrative block had not yet been completed so the headmaster was in D4, his secretary in D5 and the staff in D6.

In January 1956

and so in September 1956 with

the initial appointment of staff was complete. Many more were soon to join as the pupil numbers expanded including Mr. R. E. Griffin and Mr. R. A. Hosking, French and Boys' Physical Education respectively. In addition to the normal three forms at eleven plus, two complete forms of over-age transfers from secondary modern schools joined the grammar school.

Although Cannock Grammar School was growing and prospering the official opening ceremony had yet to take place. This was performed on 15th October, 1956 by Sir George Barnes, Principal of the then University College of North Staffordshire ( later Keele University ) with a service of Thanksgiving and Dedication in Cannock Parish Church the following day.

The stage had been set. New members of staff arrived as the school continued to grow –

Some, of course, moved on, but by 1958 new staff and new departments were quickly taking shape;

In 1959 the curriculum was expanded to include Spanish. Mr. M. G. Montague came and, after four years some of the first pupils began their sixth form course. Also came:

Hard work there certainly was, but in 1960 the school produced two French plays "L'Amour Medecin" and "Poil de Carotte". In 1961 "1066 and All That" and 1962 "Patience". 1962 was an auspicious year for the school was honoured by a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Fisher of Lambeth, who preached at the morning service in Cannock Parish Church and presented the prizes at the evening ceremony. Pupils from the sixth form were taking up university and college places, the school was fast achieving its objectives and establishing its own traditions. Among many, one to mention was Charles Wesley's "Love Divine" sung at the end of every term and on special occasions. Twelve years later in 1967 when Mr. Pomfret left to take up a post at Sunderland College of Education in his farewell letter he quoted lines from the last verse of that hymn – "Finish then Thy new creation.......".

Fifty years on the foundations laid in that vision are displayed in the many and varied achievements of those who set out in 1955 and in succeeding years. Long may Cannock Grammar School continue to influence all those who have passed through its doors!


J. E. Andrews 2007