To mark the official closure of the School
Friday, 28th June 1985
Our school, founded in 1825, was closed in 1985 amidst great controversy.
The exodus in 1964, although looked at as rats deserting, could have been a shot in the arm for the Inny. Sixteen staff plus the Headmaster left but many of the 'Old Guard' remained. The majority of the replacements were young, with new ideas.
Unfortunately this was also the time that the systematic starving of the 'elitist' school started by the Liverpool Education Authority.
1972 - the numbers were down and the continual propaganda of the Inny about to close meant that many pupils that would have come, went elsewhere. However, apart from the afore mentioned 'old guard' the staff was quite young, and, with a few exceptions, committed to the school. Yes it was run down, falling apart, shortage of books and equipment, holes in the roof that were never repaired, but it was the Inny and with all its faults it still had a sort of 'aura' and many like Wally Owen, always felt proud to tell people that he was a pupil, and then chose to be a teacher at the Liverpool Institute High School For Boys.
By 1983, the school had been removed from the normal schools' repair and maintenance list kept by the city council and was on some sort of sub-list 'essential repairs only', and was under threat of closure according to staff who were there at the time. In fact, they believed that there were political moves in progress, meant to hasten the end.
Maurice Devereux was Acting Headmaster. An inspection was sprung on him with only two weeks' notice (one of those weeks was half-term). He told the Education Office that he would not permit the inspectors to come into his school. Two days later he was offered early retirement on exceedingly advantageous terms - to start on the next Friday. He was a blunt and honest man - he felt bad at leaving, but knew he would never get such an opportunity again, and nobody blamed him for taking it.
The headmaster of West Derby Comprehensive arrived on the Monday following half-term, together with the inspectors. He stayed for the rest of the year, during which time the appalling and self-serving outsider was appointed.
The Inspectors' Report spoke of 'serious deficiencies', including the very poor condition of the building and its furnishings and fittings. Most teaching departments had insufficient resources. The school was stated to have 'no explicit management structure' and a poorly planned and inappropriate curriculum; examination results were 'generally disappointing'; the sixth form was 'in a sorry state in almost every respect'; staff morale was 'understandably low' and there were problems with attendance and discipline.
This report caused Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary of State, to write to the Council saying that the HMI report was 'most disturbing' and underlining 'the urgent need for the authority to come to grips with the management and rational organisation of secondary school provision in the interests of Liverpool's children'.
A separate official letter from the Department of Education gave the authority three months to decide how to rectify problems shown up by the report and set a timetable for improvement. The sub text for both of these letters referred to the fact that in the 1970's the population of the city had plummeted by well over 100,000, leading to massive over-provision in schools with thousands of surplus places. On the wider front in response to the three month deadline urgent work was undertaken to review all county secondary school provision in the city and the results emerged in September 1983. After all the required statutory procedures were gone through the city's proposals with only minor amendments were approved by Sir Keith Joseph, who had the final say.
In the wake of the report the most recent Acting Headmaster took early retirement and, for the first time in almost 20 years, a new headmaster was appointed not only from outside the school, but from outside the city.
The proposals included closure of both the boys' and the girls' schools of the Liverpool Institute. The Schools closed in July, 1985.
Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts
The building has now been rejuvenated as the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, largely gutted and refurbished, but the gates, main hall (now the Paul McCartney Auditorium), and the staircase to the basement are retained. Two Old Boys are on the LIPA Council - Roger Morris and Stuart Christie.
Paul Grimshaw, a technician for multimedia at the The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, has set up a web-site well worth visiting.
On April 16th 1999, Jack Sweeney officially opened a school 'History Corner' just inside the Main Entrance by the Old Iron Gates at LIPA. Guests included Miss Baker (former headmaster's secretary), Maurice Devereaux and Mike Jackson both former teachers, together with a number of other old boys including Bill Thomas, Graham Ireland, Ken McKelvie, Roger Morris and Stuart Christie.
Bill Crafter writes:
"This is a photo of a painting. Many of you will have this, and I would tell you that the buildings are all vertical in the print! It is by E. Scott Jones and was done in 1985 to commemorate the closing of the school. It was given to me today (2nd June 2005) by the daughter of Ted Rumjahn who was a former pupil of the school."
Click on an image for an full size photo.
Ken Holding writes:
"I recently came across the following appeal, for a Commemoration Fund, which I received when I attended the Liobians' Reunion in 1985. I'm now wondering what happened to the proposal. Can anyone enlighthten me? "