Looking back at the history of schools in the S8 area of Sheffield

I really enjoy reading The Star noticeboard articles,  particularly about S8, a district of Sheffield with which I have a particular interest and involvement for almost 50 years, writes Ken Cook.

By Ken Cook
Thursday, 30th May 2019, 11:47 am
Updated Thursday, 30th May 2019, 11:47 am
An exterior view of Jordanthorpe School (South Building), Sheffield, July 8, 1972
An exterior view of Jordanthorpe School (South Building), Sheffield, July 8, 1972

I was the Headteacher of Meadowhead School which was created after the amalgamation of Jordanthorpe and Rowlinson Schools in 1988. I was appointed as the deputy head of Jordanthorpe in 1973 and as Headteacher in 1976. Subsequently, I was the Heateacher of Meadowhead until 1997 and I have recently completed a period as a governor.

Many people living in the S8 area will know about the recent history of the school and may even remember the period prior to 1988 when the two large secondary schools were opposite each other on Dyche Lane.

Ken Cook pictured at Jordanthorpe School, Sheffield, in 1990

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It gives me great pleasure to reminisce when I meet parents and grandparents of current pupils at school events or visit my doctors in Greenhill and Lowedges.

There is always a danger of living in the past but these random meetings make me realise that to understand where we are, needs an understanding of where we have come from and how important that is in appreciating our community.

So what can we learn from the story of the schools in S8? We know that Rowlinson School was a secondary technical school created in 1953 serving pupils who had passed the 11 plus. Jordanthorpe was a secondary modern school built in 1954 serving the local S8 community.

With the development of the Lowedges estate a second school was built adjacent to the place where the Batemoor estate was to be built.

An exterior view of Rowlinson Technical School, Sheffield, in 1972

The two Jordanthorpe schools were separated by a playing field with a hedge to keep the boys and girls apart.

It was not until 1966 that the single Jordanthorpe was created by the amalgamation of the boys and girls schools to form the north and south buildings.

It was at this time that the Sheffield LEA adopted a policy to create comprehensive schools.

Whilst Rowlinson had a large sixth form the move to greater emphasis on equality of opportunity led to pressure from the governors of Jordanthorpe for the school to be allowed to make provision for post 16 education. My own appointment coincided with this development. Unfortunately, the authority did not make funding available to create a purpose built 6th . form centre.

As a result many former pupils will fondly remember the reconstruction of the old prefab by parents, staff, pupils and governors which served the 6th form for many years.

The account of the resilience of the school community at this time to overcome the barriers is worthy of much wider recognition on another occasion.

Rowlinson and Jordanthorpe continued independently during the early 1980s.

Whilst there was a healthy rivalry on the sports field there was always a close cooperation on matters affecting our community.

This led to a positive response by both schools when the authority made the decision to site Norton College on the Rowlinson site.

In 1988 the two schools amalgamated on the Jordanthorpe site to form Meadowhead School which emerged like a phoenix. The phoenix is now the school logo and signifies a new beginning.

I was fortunate to be the headteacher of the new school until 1997 when the school received the OfSTED accolade as an outstanding school – the first secondary school in Sheffield receive this honour.

The Star noticeboard page focuses on a different postcode area of Sheffield from Monday to Friday. 

See next Wednesday’s Star for the next S8 noticeboard.