Jordanhill College School In the Press.
The difficult years of 1985 - 89
For the period 1985 to 1989 the School was seldom out of the press. During a few short periods it featured almost nightly on Television News and, and as a result of all the coverage, most people In the west of Scotland had heard of Jordanhill College School
These were Important years In the School's recent history. A blow-by-blow account of the major upheaval, the periods of uncertainty, the meetings, setbacks and problems would of necessity be long and possibly boring. However it is possible to recall this important era through the eyes of the press.
As Secretary of the Action Committee during this difficult period, I kept a detailed scrapbook with over 350 newspaper cuttings from all available sources. They tell the story reasonably closely to the truth although there were times when those who knew the whole story fumed at the way the facts had been portrayed.
Brief History and current status of Jordanhill School (copied from the School website)
Founded in 1920, it was formerly run by Jordanhill College of Education as its demonstration school, and was known as Jordanhill College School until 1989 (ie at the end of the period covered by this article).
The school has a unique status. It is now funded by a direct grant from the Scottish Executive, and is neither a local authority school, nor is it a private or independent school. No fees are paid, and there is no academic selection of pupils.
It is an all-through Primary and Secondary Comprehensive school serving the local area of Jordanhill, and parts of Broomhill and Scotstoun. The school roll is 462 Primary and 575 Secondary pupils.
Admission is on a first-come first served basis, and is done via a waiting list.
For more information go to the School’s website at http://www.jordanhill.glasgow.sch.uk/
From its creation in 1920, the school had been funded out of the general grants paid to the College, and was run in parallel with all the other departments. In later years the College made progressively less use of the school as a handy demonstration facility and preferred to send students for teaching practice to schools over a wide area.
The first publicised hint of problems to come was contained In an article In the Glasgow Herald on 20 December 1985. It reported that The Secretary of State for Scotland, in a Commons written reply, had stated that he had told the Governors of Jordanhill College about the administration and funding of the School and had indicated that If it was no longer required for college functions then new arrangements would have to be made.
By March 1986 the MP for Hillhead at the time, Roy Jenkins, was urging the Secretary of State to allow the School to continue in its existing form but in April, under the heading "Funding threat to College School" the Glasgow Herald was spelling out the issues at stake.
At the beginning of May the Glasgow Herald reported a hint that the School could become the first of a new generation of direct grant schools in Scotland and on 5 May the back page of the Herald carried a large article with a photograph of the Headteacher with a group of primary pupils in front of the School.
On 12 May the Daily Record scooped with an article entitled “D-day for school in battle over fees". This report stated that the governors of Jordanhill College had three options (a) to apply to the Scottish Secretary for grant funding (b) to become a fee paying school and possibly lose pupils in the process or ((c)) to transfer to the Local authority. This third option was stated as - " a most likely decision".
On 23 June the Glasgow Herald wrote under the heading "£12,000 clue to the school's future'' that the Scottish Education Department had approved a grant for a new science Laboratory and went on to comment that "pundits say it is unlikely that the SED would have made the £12,000 available if Jordanhill is to be invited to go private''. By this time it was also being reported that Strathclyde Regional Council was not interested In taking over the School.
The Evening Times of 19 August 1986 reported that the PTA was meeting to work out how best to fight Government plans to close the School. "Parents battle to save School" and "Privatise or shut threat to Jordanhill" were typical headlines at this time. The Evening Times, Scotsman, Daily Record and the Glasgow Guardian all carried reports over the next few days
By 21 August the gloves were off. "Court action plan to save Jordanhill" said the Herald headline above an article in which Dr. Finlay Macdonald is quoted as saying "We will be looking at our legal rights as parents whose children's education has been disrupted and from the point of view that the Government is trying to sell off a public asset". The Chairman of the Board of Governors of Jordanhill College was quoted as saying that the privatisation of the School was inevitable.
The Herald of 23 August reported "A meeting of almost 900 parents last night voiced their opposition to the plan to axe the £1.lm annual grant to Jordanhill College School, Glasgow, and force it into the private fee-paying sector. The two and a half hour meeting called by the PTA approved a long list of resolutions to spearhead a campaign to keep the School in its present form".
There then followed numerous letters to the editor; small articles and large half-page features followed shortly by the intriguing headline "Inquiry into school funds leak". The report alleged that the Scottish Office appeared to be conducting a full scale inquiry Into the loss of an official memorandum outlining options open to Ministers on the disposal of the School. The memorandum also showed that the Scottish Education Department had been deliberately underfunding the school for five years and concealing the shortfall. In the 3 September edition of the Herald Mr Jenkins was pictured with pupils and he was reported to have demanded an explanation for the underfunding.
However on 4 September the emphasis again changed and the headlines reported that parents had "...last night agreed to support moves by the Region to step in and take over the School". This solution was rejected on 8 September by one vote at a meeting of the controlling Labour group of Strathclyde Regional Council.
A petition was tried. The Evening Times of 10 September carried a photograph of two pupils handing over a petition to the Secretary of State for Scotland (at that time Mr Malcolm Rifkind) under a bold headline "Please sir, don't close our School".
Throughout September and October the School continued to be regularly in the news under headlines such as "New College move", "School battle splits Labour", and "Rifkind under attack".
On 27 November the School featured In the Written Answers section of Hansard. Mr Jenkins had asked the Secretary of State to say how much grant would be given to the College to run the School during 1987-88. Mr Rifkind replied that final decisions had not yet been taken but that it was not intended that the school's budget should differ significantly from what might have been expected had no changes for managing the School been In prospect.
On 14 January 1987 the Evening Times had a banner headline "Maggie is briefed on school crisis". The article also reported that the Scottish education Minister, Mr John Mackay was to visit the School a few days later. The visit was duly reported with suitable photographs (see photo of Mr Cram, on the left, with Mr Mackay. From the Evening Times).
On 28 January the School went national with a letter to the editor of the London Times from the Headteacher and Dr Macdonald. Pressure was kept up in London a few weeks later when the Headteacher and two pupils handed over a petition to 10 Downing Street accompanied by appropriate coverage in the Scottish newspapers.
Spasmodic news coverage continued until the Herald appeared on 7 March with what appeared to be a scoop. Under the heading "Grant hope for College School" it alleged that Scottish Office Ministers had decided to offer a Government grant which would involve parents making a contribution in fees towards the running of the School.
Things went quiet for a short time after this until BBC Scottish News on 1 May reported that a rescue package had bean announced. The Herald the following day gave details of the scheme to give direct grant aid to the School in future at an estimated cost of £1.35m per year. The following week there were reports in many of the Scottish papers culminating in a photograph and article on 9 May showing staff and members of the PTA cutting a celebration cake.
The School's problems faded out of the limelight for about eight months during which time the Action Committee set up the new management structure and worked hard on making arrangements for the formal takeover from the College scheduled for 1 April 1988. To mark its severence from the College, the school was to be known in future as Jordanhill School
However the School came back into the headlines in February with reports of Mr Cram having been fined and disqualified for drunk driving in Greenock. This was to be the start of a long sad saga which lasted through until December, recording his dismissal, his reinstatement and finally his resignation.
On 1 April the new Board of Managers took control of the renamed Jordanhill School. There was little press interest in this.
In February 1989 the School had a further brief exposure In the press with news of the appointment of Mr Bedborough as headteacher in succession to Mr Cram.. The Scotsmen reported what everyone hoped for after the previous three years under the headline "Jordanhill's Head predicts harmony with School Board".
Major repair works were started within the School to make good a long period of neglect of the fabric of the building and even that led to press reports in April resulting from the need to remove asbestos.
Of necessity this article has missed out many details, most of which were communicated to parents at regular intervals through Action Committee newsletters and meetings. It is without doubt that few (if any) other schools have gone through such an eventful, nerve-racking period accompanied by relentless media attention. The future of the School was saved largely thanks to a small group of parents and staff backed by a community determined to ensure that the School continued despite ominous threats.
The success of the campaign can be measured by the fact that the School now runs smoothly under an elected Board of Managers, in buildings owned by the School Company and with a waiting list greater that the number of those currently on the School roll.
For the complete history of Jordanhill School between 1920 and 1995 (including the above period) refer to the book “Jordanhill School 1920 – 1995” by Iain A D Mann.
28 March 2005, (updated 2 May).
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