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Saint Georges School Leighton Buzzard

Saint Georges Lower School June 2008
Saint George's Lower School June 2008

Saint George's was built in 1952 and opened as a County Primary Junior School for pupils from 7 to 11 years. At age eleven pupils took an examination (the Eleven Plus) which determined which secondary school they attended. The top 25% attended a grammar school, The Cedars, where they were taught an academic curriculum designed to enable them to go on to university. The rest attended Secondary Modern Schools (Beaudesert for boys and Mary Bassett for girls until 1959 when both sexes attended Brooklands or, later Gilbert Inglefield) and were taught a more skills based curriculum intended to fit them for work.

A School Inspector's report from 1961 survives [E/IN1/2]: "The school opened in 1952 as a two form-entry junior school to serve the needs of a new housing estate. Buildings and site are pleasant and spacious. For the eight classrooms there are at present 413 pupils, organised in ten classes. One class, therefore, is housed in the hall and another in the dining room. Small groups are sometimes taken in a medical room. Another junior school has recently been opened in the town [Mary Bassett], and as the Local Education Authority's plans mature it is to be expected that numbers at Saint George's will decrease. Equipment generally is good. The County Library lends a generous supply of books, but most of these are housed in the classroom of the quicker children of the fourth year, and are not readily available to other classes, where there is need for more books which will encourage children to read for pleasure and for information. A small central library of books owned by the school is stored in a corridor, and is more accessible, but the books are insufficient in quality and in number to fill the need".

"In each year there are two classes, elected on ability. There are also two special classes, Upper and Lower remove, each of 36 children and each taking the slowest children from two years. There are thirteen full-time teachers, including the headmaster, and one teacher who comes for the mornings only. Together they form a hardworking and competent staff".

"A solid foundation is laid in the basic skills of learning. A few children in the Upper Remove have difficulty in reading and some in the Lower Remove are not yet able to tackle words which they do not immediately recognise, but in the other classes all the children can read fluently, or are likely to be able to do so within a reasonable time. In written English and in arithmetic, work is generally accurate and well set out. Many children, however, could go further if more were demanded of them. They need more opportunities to use their skills in challenging situations involving their own interests and demanding the use of imagination and of independent reasoning. In history, geography, religious instruction and science, there is room for more original writing. Singing is much enjoyed, a wide range of songs is known and very good recorder playing was heard. Some attractive needlework of good quality is produced. On the whole, however, the creative and expressive aspects of the work of the school are under-developed and offer a challenge to the skill and ingenuity of the staff".

"The confident, polite and sensible bearing of the children as they go about the school reflects a good relationship with the staff. A variety of inter-house competitions is held and there are annual functions such as sports, a verse-speaking festival, a Christmas carol service and a concert. A party is to go abroad during the summer term this year. About half the children stay to a mid-day meal, cooked on the premises in a kitchen which also supplies a transported meal to another school. The meal is served in two sittings on a cafeteria system; there is not enough space and accommodation as yet for any other more acceptable method".

"The strengths of the school at present are its good social relationships and the sound foundation which is laid in the basic skills. The range of the work attempted is not as wide as might be expected, and its pace could well be faster for some children. Within a rather limited field good standards are being achieved, which could not only be maintained but improved upon if the school could widen the scope of its work and make the fullest use of the ability and interests of all its children".

In 1968 the Secretary of State approved a comprehensive reorganisation of schools by the Local Education Authority, Bedfordshire County Council. This did away with selection, all pupils attending similar schools, teaching the same curriculum, based solely on age. Children aged 5 to 9 attended lower schools, those aged 9 to 13 went to a middle school and those aged 13 to 18 attended an upper school. The council affirmed its support for the scheme in 1969 and again in 1970 and in 1974 the reorganisation reached the Leighton Buzzard area.

Leighton Buzzard was slightly different to other parts of the county in that it had two infants' schools (Beaudesert and Leedon) for pupils aged 5 to 7 years. It was envisaged that this would continue for the foreseeable future, however, in the event both schools changed to become lower schools. Under the planned arrangements Saint George's was to have taught children aged 7 to 9 but actually made the change to a lower school in 1976 teaching children from age five.

On 1st April 2009 Bedfordshire was abolished. The new Local Education Authority for Leighton Buzzard and area is Central Bedfordshire Council, a unitary council discharging both county and district functions.


Note that some sources may not be available in order to protect personal details

  • E/IN1/2: inspector's report: 1961;
  • CA8/519: building maintenance file: 1971-1981;
  • CA2/740: building file for nursery unit: 1976-1977;
  • E/TE3/3: return of teaching staff: 1981;
  • E/TE3/6: return of teaching staff: 1986;
  • E/MS3/2/6: kitchen and other details: c.1987;
  • E/Pu4/4/158: school prospectus: 1995