Extract from a booklet about the formation of the Boldon Community Association produced for the general information.


With the many and rapid changes in the spheres of Community provision, youth work, adult education and secondary education, it is most important that the public be given every opportunity to understand the aims and organisation of the Boldon Community Association, consisting as it does, of an alliance between the Coal Industry, South Tyneside Borough Council, the local community and the Comprehensive School serving the area.

To this end, this booklet has been prepared by the Staff of the Association who have great pleasure in presenting it to you in the hope that it will be found both informative and helpful.

B.B. Abrahart, Headmaster

B. Storey, Warden


Boldon Comprehensive School. Boldon Community Association.



Boldon Community Association and Boldon Comprehensive School are equal partners in an attempt by the Local Authority and the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation to provide the Boldon area with facilities that can be used ‘from the cradle to the grave’ in the pursuit of education for life, in both senses of the term.

Two concepts must be borne in mind when considering schemes of this kind:

1. Dual Use: which refers to the shared use of facilities by the public for whom the facilities were not primarily intended,

2. Joint Provision: referring to two or more Authorities co-operating together in joint planning for and provision of a facility for joint use.

In Boldon, both concepts are in operation, a dual use of the school buildings by both the school and the community and the sharing of additional facilities provided by the Local Authority and C.I.S.W.O. Thus the Boldon scheme is unique, offering perhaps, an example of provision that can be followed in other areas.

Historical Background

The convention of regarding schools as being forbidding institutions and for the use of children only, must have its origins in the School Board Schools which sprang up all over the country in the l870’s; of imperishable architecture and intimidating atmosphere, redolent of that other great Victorian institution, the Workhouse, abandoning hope for all those that entered there. On entering adult life, school would be the last place any right-minded person would go. Yet schools had not always had this repellent quality; prior to the revolutions, industrial and political, the village school associated with the parish church or not conformist chapel, had offered a common ground for both child and adult, in Bible study, literacy and opportunities for social activity.

In the 1930s, an attempt to recreate the communal use of schools was made by Henry Morris in his conception of the Cambridgeshire Village College, where the schoo1 was to serve a dual purpose; to educate children and to offer facilities to adults through social, recreational and educational activities. Thus the school buildings were no longer frozen assets when the children were not in occupation, but were in use at all reasonable hours and catering for the needs of the whole community" not only the training ground for the art of living, but the place in which life is lived". A Warden/Teacher with overall control was appointed for each College, with a common Governing Body for both aspects of its work.

The war gave a great fillip to communal activities. Knitting circles, spelling bees, classes in literature, politics and reconstruction; groups met for a wide variety of interests, and school buildings were widely used for these purpose, as well as for Civil Defence. Thus after the war, the impetus continued, many Local Authorities offered an elastic provision of Further Education classes (the Evening Institute), while the W.E.A. and University Adult Education Departments came to be regular users of school premises.

The Youth Service expanded; in the 1950’s Northumberland added Youth Wings and by appointing Youth Organisers to schools, offered constructive use of spare time to the young people of the neighbourhood.

Hand in hand with this development in the 1950s and 60s, went a rapid growth of Community Associations, often the result of Central Government and Local Authority willingness to provide premises in localities where community activities were likely to be successful. Occasionally such

Provision was initially to fail in its purpose for communities do not develop just because a meeting place has been provided, but from the lessons learned, the spontaneous growth of such associations was encouraged by many Local Authorities being prepared to talk with and assist those community growths which rose to the surface in new towns and the ever increasing suburbs of established places.

In August 1964, the Government urged Local Authorities to carry out reviews to determine further provision for sport and recreation, suggesting collaboration between Local Authorities and other interested bodies. The result was a burgeoning of Sports Centres, of which the Ponteland Centre is a local example.

It was only a matter of time before this wide variety of provision was to coalesce in somebody’s mind and say, into the teeth of biting economic winds which were beginning to stir, that school buildings should provide the base for community activities. The Minister for Sport in January 1968, had this to say.

"Instead of gymnasiums, schools might have sports halls which could be used both in and out of school hours. Schools should be designed with a classroom section which could be locked and protected as well as a community section for dual use ‘from the word go’. I want to stop providing recreation in watertight compartments, where schools and industrial concerns have recreational facilities purely for their own use.


This sort of thing makes no sense at all these days, we have to put our sports together and get more value for it.

When we plan a new school it could be designed with a classroom block separate from a sports hall where a number of facilities should go on and not just gymnastics.

Where some schools are provided with two gymnasiums, in the future one could be a multipurpose sports hall and the other a swimming pool.

You could build all this around a social heart – where one could get a meal or a snack and outside you could have all-weather, floodlit facilities. All this could be done at little extra cost and you could add local government recreational money to the education money, so that by spending a little more on one project a district would get far more value.

We can no longer think in isolation. We should no longer build a school with just educational facilities in mind, for we have to exploit the potential of every pound".


In February 1970, Circular 2/70 from the Department of Education and Science entitled "A Chance to Share", asked Local Authorities to review their arrangements for consultation and co-operation within their own Departments and with other Authorities, with a view to accelerating development over a wider field, specifically mentioning music, drama and craft as areas requiring attention.

These things, of course, would not have been said, had it not been for various pioneering attempts in various parts of the country pointing the way.

The Lawrence Weston School in Bristol situated in a new housing estate, offered a joint provision scheme in 1962 with a common Library and an expanded programme in dual use for youth and adult activities in the evenings. A school in Jersey was planned for the whole community from the outset in 1964.

From 1965 onwards, joint planning really began to develop when it became clear that the economic advantages could be substantial and that the schools involved would be able to enjoy better facilities and opportunities than could be provided within the ever shrinking D.E.S. building cost limits.

At Egremont in Cumberland, a new comprehensive school being provided by the County Council, was modified substantially to a community specification because of an injection of capital from the local Urban District Council. The school opened in 1965, now possesses

  • A 25 metre swimming pool with diving facilities,
  • A Sports Hall with climbing walls,
  • A Concert Hall with a stage and lighting,
  • A converted village school housing a Public Library integrated into the scheme.

The experience of the County's officers in running community ventures in West Cumberland gave valuable data during the design stage of the Egremont scheme.

Nottinghamshire, in partnership with its District Councils was able to provide upgraded physical educational facilities for some of is Comprehensive Schools during this period.

To read page 2 of this account click here.

 Page 2
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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