Multi-million pound restoration project
The churchyard at St Mary de Crypt in Southgate Street will be closed for more than a year as work at the centuries-old church gets underway.
We have been authorized by the Committee of the Old Cryptians’ Club, further to meetings in London, Oxford and Gloucester in November 2003 and January 2004, to respond to the County Council proposals, which could have an impact on the Crypt School.
The Old Cryptians’ Club was founded in 1901 and it has long been and remains an active association. We represent generations of Crypt pupils and their families and other relations. The committee and membership are most conscious of their duty that is stated in its constitution, “to forward the interest of the School, its institutions and any of its members”.
We are mindful that for over 460 years, The Crypt School, which was founded as “a contynuall frescole of gramer” by John and Joan Cooke in 1539, has served the City and nation well.
The School, which is the oldest educational foundation in the city, has produced scholars, great religious leaders and evangelists, poets, engineers, scientists, technologists and other leaders of opinion in a variety of professions. We are naturally most proud of this heritage and feel privileged to share this sense of continuity with past generations.
However, we also recognise that the school of today is a progressive, forward looking institution, designed to respond to change and to providing, as ever, broad windows of opportunity for young people. Above all we would wish the County Council to acknowledge this achievement and to preserve The Crypt School in its current status, so that all children may benefit from the first class education provided there.
COMMENTS ON THE REVIEW.
We have a major concern that in the review the real quality of The Crypt School was misrepresented. The failure to mention the most recent improvements in performance was most damaging to the reputation of the school. Furthermore, there has arisen the commonly held fear that the school might become the victim of those County Councillors who are opposed in a doctrinaire way to the existence of grammar schools.
We believe that all decisions to be taken in the matter by the County Council must be free of all political dogma or prejudice and based solely upon educational criteria.
We contest the argument that root and branch reform is needed of the secondary system. We believe that the correlation between the stated reasons for reform and the options listed for consultation is unclear. For example, we reject the argument that a reduction in the number of selective places would result simply in an improvement in and across the system.
Furthermore, it has been well established nationally in recent times that within the comprehensive system “pecking orders” for schools soon come into operation.
Supportive parents will seek always the most successful schools for their children. Any cut in the provision of selective places would result in a denial of opportunities for more able children to achieve their full potential.
Selection by Ability and Parental Preference.
We reject the notion that the existence of grammar schools is in some way harmful to the other schools. The National Audit office in a recent report found that the presence of selective schools was not a significant factor in performance in other schools.
The NAO provided ample evidence of the value added by selective and specialist schools.
We believe that the educational needs of the more able of the city’s children will be best provided for in the selective schools. We seek the retention of The Crypt School with its stimulating and challenging environment in which the more able children will attain their full potential.
For many decades The Crypt School has admitted more pupils from a broader range of ability and social background than is customary for a grammar school. The School has taken, justly, great pride in this and in the high achievements of its wide-ranging groups of pupils in and beyond school.
We support and respect the wish of those parents who seek to state a preference for a selective school for their child, such as The Crypt. We share in their statement of confidence in the high quality of education that the School will provide for their child.
Single-sex Education 11-16.
We are not opposed in principle to coeducation in The Crypt, but understand that there is no strong groundswell from parents in the city for this change.
We are opposed to a mixed option if it means the loss of a great number of selective places in the city.
Performance, Standards and Specialisms.
It has long been recognised that social and economic factors are not the sole or necessarily the most influential in determining a school’s performance. We admire the good work in hand, undertaken by the headmaster and the governors, with the support of staff and parents, in the implementation of schemes of improvement.
We urge that the LEA should provide its full administrative and financial support to The Crypt School, in its quest to complete an effective set of self-improvement initiatives.
We are most concerned that any major schemes of restructuring with the loss of specialist school status, 6th form collaboration and other forms of collaboration with local schools, that the grammar schools provide, would be detrimental to the quality of education. The standards of excellence that exist in the grammar schools would be destroyed and not easily rebuilt.
We support the retention of grammar and comprehensive schools so that the differing needs of children may be met with a range of curricular approaches and teaching styles.
We were delighted that The Crypt was granted recently specialist Science College status. Implicit in this scheme is the requirement for the school to provide expertise for the benefit of the wider educational community.
We urge that the LEA supports further the development of this status, using the expertise of The Crypt to the best advantage of other schools.
Cluster One and Options for Review.
We share the view of the headmaster and the governors that the presentation of the options in local clusters is an artificial one and that the description of the school in the review has been deliberately partial in the presentation of evidence. We also are concerned that the School has been linked with the Central Technology College, one of the two schools highlighted as being in need of improvement.
We strongly oppose the option of creating a boys 11-16 comprehensive with Central Technology College. Above all we believe that The Crypt makes a distinctive contribution to secondary education in its own unique style to the city of Gloucester.
The Future of The Crypt School.
There have been significant improvements in performance achieved in The Crypt School in recent years. This is illustrated in the award of successive DfES Schools’ Achievement Awards, the award of Science College status, and in the improving results at KS3 and GCSE. The Crypt School has set a fine example of best practice in the implementation of effective measures of self-improvement.
The pupils of The Crypt School in 2004 benefit in their education from the strong leadership of a young and dynamic headmaster, the support of committed staff, whose work was highly praised in the last OFsted report, and also the backing of active and caring parents.
Not surprisingly the popularity of the school is shown in the increasing numbers of pupils who apply to enter the school and by the largest number ever of Sixth Form students. At the same time links with the local community and within the city and further afield are strong and well established.
In conclusion, we reiterate our belief that The Crypt School is a vibrant institution, with the distinctive ethos and identity that the authors of the Review claim that they are seeking in the schools.
We commend also the fine record of the School in the preparation of young people for meeting the challenges of the modern world.
We admire and cherish the aspirations and ideals, which the School holds dear in its daily life. These underpin the social, spiritual and moral life of the School and as such could be a match for those to be found in the best schools in the country.
We believe that The Crypt School must retain its status as a selective school and at the same time, because of its inherent strengths, enabled with appropriate support from the LEA, to develop further the existing initiatives and measures of working in collaboration with other schools in Gloucester.
We are adamant that The Crypt School is a centre of excellence-a precious educational and cultural resource for the people of Gloucester-and that its continued development, not its dismemberment, must be the priority of the educational planners.
Signed by President Old Cryptians’ Club 2003/2004.
On behalf of the working group in response to the Review, the committee and membership of The Old Cryptians’ Club.