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Developments leading to the Boldon Scheme

It was against this background that Dr W. Reid, now Sir William Reid, in a paper prepared on behalf of a working party set up by the Coal Industry Welfare Organisation in 1968, urged Durham Education Authority to consider the possibilities of a campus style site when developing schools or building new ones, where facilities would then be made available for outdoor recreation, youth activities and the involvement of the adult community.

Mr D. H. Curry, the then Deputy director of Education in Durham L.E.A., replying to the paper, stated that his Authority was concerned to note that it was not generally speaking attracting the interest of many in the 16 – 21 age group and that consequently he welcomed Dr. Reid’s observations.

While such discussions were in progress, ripples of alarm began to spread; teachers, officers and local councillors, fearful of invasion by the youth and adult community interfering with the ordered running of schools, created such an atmosphere of doubt that in 1973 the Durham Education Assembly set up a Working Party to consider the whole concept of shared use. Their findings were summarised as follows:

"Briefly it was felt that shared-facilities were to be recommended for the following reasons.

  1. Dual use could enable facilities to be provided for the use of both schools and the public, which would not otherwise be available, anywhere in the community. Thus both the school and the community would benefit. Schools, in a time of rapidly rising costs, would gain facilities which the education authority on its own could never afford, and communities would have access to amenities which would be more generous than their own unaided efforts would be likely to produce.
  2. The school would become a focal point in the community. It would be seen in a new light, not just as a school but as an organised part of the community, accepted by pupils and adults as the natural centre for learning, vocational training, recreation and personal development.
  3. It would moreover make for a fuller utilisation of school buildings, which represent a high capital outlay yet, which now tend to stand unused for long periods of time.
  4. The sharing of facilities can help to bridge the gap between the different age groups through their association in a centre which is organised to cater for all ages from school child to old age pensioner and where mixing will arise naturally.
  5. Dual use of premises based on schools can encourage school leavers to continue leisure and educational activities in facilities which are familiar to them and with staff whom they know. "
  6. Meanwhile in Boldon, interesting developments were taking place. For many years the employees at ‘Boldon Colliery had been dissatisfied with the social and recreational facilities provided by their Welfare Scheme and wanted in addition, a swimming bath and more up to date sporting and recreational outlets. Due to the energy of Dr., Reid and the sympathetic reaction of Durham L.E.A., the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, specifically thinking of Boldon as a pilot scheme, suggested to Boldon U.D.C. and the County Council that it would be prepared to make a substantial cash provision (£60.000) for new buildings at the school, intended to serve the whole community, the existing school buildings also to be make available together with the facilities of the Miners Welfare, the whole scheme thus involving shared use for the inhabitants of the Boldon district.

This exciting scheme for unified provision for all types of activities; social, recreational, cultural and educational; a combined effort by C.I.S.W.O., the Community the school and Local Authorities was enthusiastically taken up. Boldon U.D.C. agreed to contribute £10.000 and Durham County council which had £217,000 to spend on extensions to the school in any case, agreed to modify the building programme in order to cater for these proposals, and added a further £35,000.

On the reorganisation of local government in April 1974, the new South Tyneside Borough Council now responsible for the school at Boldon endorsed these agreements and the Teacher Warden was immediately appointed.

The scheme is now well in hand. The additional buildings were completed in October 1975 and the Centre officially opened in January 1976. The complex is used by a membership in excess of 5,000 and a wide variety of activities keep the buildings open seven days a week until 11 p.m., including the school holiday periods. A Management committed representing the partners and users of the scheme, decides upon policy and the Teacher Warden and Youth and Further Education Officer (both members of the School Staff) execute the policy. The headmaster of the School is also a Warden of the Centre and is involved with all decisions. There are few serious clashes of interest between the school and the community provision, for both have found they enjoy considerable advantages from their liaison.


We are now reaching the stage where the tendency for most secondary schools to remain isolated from the public, opening their doors only on special occasions apart from some use as evening class centres, is now breaking down. The adult character of much new secondary school building and the greater variety of experience schools are seeking for their pupils, is encouraging a closer relationship with other adult institutions and community services.

Schools are already community investments. The future of State Education as a whole, lies in the willingness of schools and their staffs to become part of the community. Th expense of the provisi8on and maintenance of sophisticated areas – sports halls and gymnasia, swimming pools, home economics rooms, science labs, libraries etc., cannot just be in use for a few hours per day and for only part of the local population.

Schoolteachers are prepared for this change. For many years now, the tendency for the schoolteacher’s job to be social and remedial as well as educational, has accelerated. The shift into comprehensive schools has confirmed this progression. The isolation of the school from the community is weakening, and in the future, schools will become the focal point in their neighbourhoods for the educational, recreational and cultural expressions of their being.

Headteachers and School Staffs are now becoming aware of the social education, potential in such schemes. Young people are returning or "school" in the evenings, weekends and holidays. Parents, as regular users of shared facilities show more interest in the school function. Levels of vandalism are comparatively low. Nevertheless, treat care must be taken by contracting parties to ensure that the schemes are properly conceived and carried out. Dissatisfaction and disillusionment is easily aroused where ‘ad hoc’ arrangements, relying upon goodwill, come to e the basis of such schemes. Adequate opportunities for discussion, guarantees of practical assistance and a thorough examination of legal obstacles are vital for success.

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