“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.
For more images, see: Manplan 4
Click for further information on the exhibition: Wide-Angle View: architecture as social space in the Manplan series 1969-70, 13 September 2023 to 24 February 2024.
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