Back to School

As the September term began last year, pupils returning to Falmer High School saw a great change to their school site from when they left in July.

The Train Home from School, 1948, H1997.29
The Train Home from School, 1948, H1997.29

A large part of the school had been demolished. This was in readiness for the new academy which will eventually take the place of the existing school buildings. The school has been renamed the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy.

Falmer has only been a high school since 1974. Prior to that, it was two different establishments with the buildings closest to the main entrance forming the Stanmer Secondary School and those to the east, the Westlain Grammar School.

The History of Falmer School

The development of schools in Brighton was affected by the 1944 Butler Education Act. It introduced a three-tiered system of intermediary education: grammar, secondary and technical. Children were tested and streamed at eleven; those who achieved a score in the top 25% of the Eleven Plus exam were offered a place at a grammar school. Those who achieved less were offered places at a secondary school.

Stanmer Secondary School was the first secondary school to be built in Brighton since the Second World War. It was opened on 10 April 1952 by John Wolfenden (later Lord Wolfenden), Vice-Chancellor of Reading University.

In his opening speech he said:

“ ..it may be that this school will not turn out Prime Ministers… but it will turn out citizens who will form the good backbone of the country”.

Stanmer School, Brighton, 1958, HA911581
Stanmer School, Brighton, 1958, HA911581

In the same year the Brighton Gazette ran an article deploring the lack of grammar schools in Brighton. It was suggested that the Stanmer School could one day become a grammar school.

In fact, a grammar school (the first co-educational school in Brighton) did open on the same site in September 1957. It was the Westlain Grammar School.

It was officially opened by Lord Woolton on 12 September 1957 and cost £189,000 to build.

The schools survived as separate establishments until 1973 when the sites were combined to form Stanmer High School.

Wolfenden told the pupils of Stanmer Secondary School that ‘one day your school will be hundreds of years old’ but he proved to be hopelessly wrong.  The school name disappeared in 1973 and in a few years the buildings will have gone as well.

One Response

  1. There is always sadness to seeing cherished old buildings destroyed or altered beyond recognition, especially as the changes causing this are not always for the better, often responding to political dogma rather than genuine need.

    School days are not always “the happiest days of your life” but they do affect you for the rest of your life and leave enduring memories.

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