***TV Documentary - BBC4***

 I have now received further information about the TV documentary about grammar schools. I shall print below the full  message from the researcher who contacted me looking for information. What is tantalisingly unclear is whether we will get a mention in the programme - I know that many Old Bucks helped with stories and other data.

Here is the link to PROGRAMME ONE


Just a quick email to let you all know that we have finally finished the BBC4 two parter, ‘Grammar School – A Secret History’.

Programme One will air on Thursday 5th January 2012 at 9pm on BBC4

Programme Two will air on Thursday 12th January 2012 at 9pm on BBC4

In this two part series we hear from a mix of less well known ex grammar school pupils and a cast of some of Britain’s most well-known and well-loved house hold names, all from humble working class or lower middle class backgrounds, many of whom passionately believe they owe much of their success in life to their grammar school education. They include, Sir David Attenborough who for the first time on TV shares some heart-warming anecdotes from his grammar school days; Dame Joan Bakewell, Lord Neil Kinnock, Lord Paul Boateng, Sir Roy Strong, Michael Portillo, Edwina Currie, Michael Wood, Roy Greenslade and Bob McCartney.

This is the story of Britain’s grammar schools. They have been regarded as Britain’s most illustrious schools, amongst them many can boast a long and successful history; their founding principle was based on providing otherwise unattainable opportunities of a top class education to the very brightest pupils from some of the poorest families in the Country. From the early days of grammar schools they were seen as a vehicle for upward social mobility and continued in this vein until their demise in the late 60s, early 70s. Programme one looks into the history of these landmark schools and how they paved the way for many children from less advantaged backgrounds to enter into top professions and for some to reach the very peak of their professions.

The key values enshrined in these schools were competition, good manners, academic excellence, sporting achievement, pride in the school and social advancement. The post-war Labour government had so much faith in the grammar schools it made them central to the new tri-partite education system it introduced after World War 2. All children took an eleven plus examination to decide whether they went to grammar school to receive a more academic and advanced education, or –if they failed- to the new secondary moderns where their schooling would be more technical, preparing them for apprenticeships and manual work.

In the early sixties the grammar schools were at the pinnacle of their success. They were the pride and joy of the nations and regions, where schools and education authorities vied with each other for the top spot, usually gauged by how many pupils won university places at Oxford or Cambridge each year, however the grammar schools were of course far from perfect. There were not enough of them. There were far fewer places for girls. The eleven plus was an imperfect means of selecting the best pupils. To overcome some of these problems the first comprehensive schools were introduced after the war- but nobody ever imagined that the grammar school system, the pride of Britain and her democracy, would be killed off so quickly and so brutally. The second programme focuses on the swift and brutal fall of Britain’s best loved schools. By the late 1970s three quarters of the old grammar schools were gone, despite their proven record of success as an instrument of social mobility for working class children. They would be replaced by the untried, one-size-fits-all, non-selective, mixed ability comprehensive school which were pioneered in the post-war years.

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that helped with information, ex grammar school pupils contact details and for forwarding my initial email/postal appeals onto members of your old boys and old girls associations. I had a fantastic response from all the various appeals that were sent out which was incredibly helpful. I hope you all enjoy watching the programme and I would love to hear your feedback after the programmes are shown.

Emily Sivyer | Researcher

Testimony Films | 12 Great George St | Bristol | BS1 5RH

T: +44 (0) 117 925 8589





All of the content on this site has been researched and provided by past pupils of Buckhurst Hill County High School. We are always interested in adding to this resource and ensuring the accuracy of the information on the site, so if you have further details regarding information on this page please click here.

If you have information that has not been allocated a page or you are unsure where it should go please click here.


Are you involved?

Membership includes the bi-annual newsletter, and invitations to the Annual Dinner and other Network events.

More >

Buckhurst Hill County High School