25th April 2018

#SaveClassics Fundraising Campaign Update

Miss Johnson, Subject Leader for Classics and Latin

#SaveClassics Fundraising Campaign Update

The current total raised is £24,431.95 and the Classics Department would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the fund so far. Particular thanks go to our major donors – Andrew Cook, John Hancock, Alex Jennings and Richard Humphry – who are all alumni of the Boys’ Grammar School and have been extremely generous. We would also like to thank broadcaster and journalist, Paul Heiney, another alumnus of the Boys’ Grammar, for his time, effort and expertise in producing a short film for us to promote the campaign on social media, which we hope will get it out to a wider audience. This can be viewed below.

We have a major fundraising event coming up at school on the evening of Thursday 24th May when well-known local folk musician and virtuoso guitarist, Martin Simpson, will be performing and donating all proceeds to our campaign. Martin has a daughter currently in Year 8 at High Storrs who is very keen to take a GCSE in Classical Civilisation, hence her dad’s offer of a benefit gig. Much of the media attention the campaign has attracted thus far has been in relation to the Latin side of our teaching so we are particularly delighted to be able to promote our other subject area through Martin’s generosity. He has added High Storrs to his nationwide tour and it is the only public appearance he will be making in Sheffield this year so if you would like to attend the event, which will have a full bar service, tickets are available at www.ticketsource.co.uk/high-storrs-school. The ticket sales will provide a huge boost to our current total and guarantee that Martin’s daughter and her peers will have access to this most vibrant of GCSE subjects so a huge thank you to him too.

On a lesser scale, the Classics Department will be running a stall at the forthcoming High Storrs Car Boot Sale where we will be selling all sorts of things including donations of unwanted Christmas, or any other sort of, presents. We are also planning a grand raffle based around generous contributions from various local Sainsbury’s stores. Should you have anything you would like to donate to either of these fundraising efforts, please contact me at G.Johnson@highstorrs.sheffield.sch.uk .

In addition to raising money, the campaign has also been about raising the profile of Latin and Classical Civilisation both in school and more widely and this has certainly paid off with our current Year 8 students who have just chosen their GCSE subject options. Twenty-four students have chosen to study Latin to GCSE starting next September, which is a big enough group for the school to fund without us having to subsidise it. This is great news and means that the money we have raised will go that bit further. Senior academics in the universities are also now involved in trying to resurrect the classical subjects in our schools and I have been invited to join an event at the University of Warwick in July at which this will be discussed. I will be suggesting that the most important thing we do is to try to persuade the government that Classical Civilisation really should be included in the English Baccalaureate qualification.

Our campaign will be running until the end of August so if you have not yet donated and would like to please go to https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/save-classics or send a cheque made payable to ‘High Storrs School Fund’ and with ‘Save Classics’ written on the back to us here at school.

Once again, thank you, to everyone who has contributed in whatever way so far. We are thrilled by the support we have received and most grateful.

Gina Johnson

From Paul Heiney, Alumnus and TV Personality

I left what was then called the Upper Sixth form in 1966, ran joyfully down Ringinglow Road to catch the bus and, in turn, face the wider world. My school days were over. Fast forward over fifty years, and I walked back into High Storrs once again - about a month ago.

So what’s changed? The paint’s changed for a start, and we can all be grateful for that. For all that the Swinging Sixties meant to popular culture, it didn’t impinge on the Sheffield City Council who were then responsible for the upkeep of the place. They only had one colour scheme which they applied across everything from schools, council offices to public lavatories. It was a sombre green, as you might find in an old funeral parlour, painted to halfway up the wall then topped by a sickly cream, the same colour as a bottle of milk that has gone off.

And talking of milk, there was no smell in the air of the rancid stench of half empty milk bottles. Milk was handed out by prefects at morning break. Mrs Thatcher eventually axed that. Crates arrived every morning, rattling with bottles which contained a third of a pint, and were stored, without refrigeration, somewhere near the steamy teachers’ common room. The handing out of the bottles was deeply corrupt. If you were mates with the prefect on duty you might get two, but if you’d crossed him, amazingly, when it came to your turn there weren’t any left.

And another fundamental change has taken place. It is now one school. Until the mid sixties it was divided into two; a boy’s school and beside it a girl’s - the girls were at the north end. But despite their physical proximity, they might as well have been at opposite ends of the city. In fact, punishments were handed out if you were seen talking - yes, just talking! - to the girls. If you put so much as a foot across the undefined barrier, you would be in for a beating. Getting through into the girls’ bit was as tricky as getting across the old Berlin Wall. And now, on my return, I see boys and girls barreling down the corridors laughing and joking as kids should. That would have been at least a hundred lines, or a visit to the headmaster.

Talking of which, I briefly met the current head of school. She seemed quite normal, and pleasant! By which I mean that head teachers back then were far from ordinary. They barked like snarling wolves, fixed you with a wicked, watery eye intending to frighten. Everything ran on fear; fear of teachers, fear of prefects, fear of bullies, and the greatest fear of all that the chips would be gone by the time you got to the dining hall.

OK, it wasn’t all that bad, and in my later years I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The old physics laboratories on the ground floor, and the stinking chemistry labs upstairs, have all gone, but these became the most important places for me. At the back of the old cupboards was a collection of derelict equipment for demonstrating the principles of static electricity, x rays, and all things electrical. The senior physics master, Mr Herring, told me to get them all out, get them going, and then give a lecture to the whole year. Me? Give a lecture? It turned out to be a huge success. I discovered a gift for storytelling, even though I might have been uncertain what I was talking about. Such a grounding in ‘getting away with’ proved useful in my later journalistic years, and standing before half the school and controlling my nerves proved a good foundation for standing in front of television cameras. You never know where education will lead you. Which I why when I see that the ‘new’ High Storrs offers ‘performance arts’ as a subject, I don’t wring my hands in horror as many of my generation would.

The biggest change? High Storrs feels a much happier place. There was always a tension when you came through the doors, but not now. Not everyone’s having a great time, that would be too much to expect. But there’s something about the atmosphere, which I cannot describe, but which says that this is a decent place. And it always was, it’s just that the idea of what’s good for kids has changed.

So for that reason, if someone said I had to go back to High Storrs and do it all over again, I wouldn’t mind. Even so, every time I crossed that threshold between the old boys’ and girls’ school, I think my heart would still miss a beat.