Records of Hills Road Sixth Form College (formerly the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, the Cambridgeshire and County High School for Boys and the Cambridge and County School for Boys)

Scope and Content

This collection contains the core records of the school/college including management meeting minutes and admission registers as well as student publications, Parent and Teacher Association records and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Following a meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Council Education Committee held on 07 July 1900 it was announced that a new technical school would be opened in Cambridge. The new school, The Cambridge and County School for Boys, was established in response to the lack of technical training opportunities for boys in the County, particularly those living outside of Cambridge City. For several years education officials from the Borough and the County had been considering a series of proposals for expanding the available range of courses in Cambridgeshire. Austin Keen, Secretary to both the Borough and County Council Education Committees first advocated an additional agricultural science course at the Perse School but this plan was rejected by the Headmaster. He next suggested that a new school be formed to offer training at a level somewhere between that offered by elementary schools and the more academically orientated Perse Boys' School. His efforts met with success and in Autumn 1900 the new school became a reality.

The Cambridge and County School for Boys was put in the care of the Revd. C.J.N. Child who was duly appointed headmaster. The first intake of 41 boys, drawn mainly from outside Cambridge City, arrived on 18 September 1900 at the Lecture Hall of St. Andrew's Baptist Church to begin their studies. In these early days the school was described as a place of secondary education for boys in farming, market gardening, building, surveying and general business life. For its second year the school moved to temporary premises adjacent to St. Columba's Presbyterian Sunday School. The following year the school, now with 205 students, moved to its current location at Hills Road.

The Perse School for Boys mounted a challenge to the early existence of the new school by claiming that it was creating unreasonable competition in the Borough, particularly through its lower fees. The Board of Education ruled that The Cambridge and County School for Boys was not duplicating the educational opportunities provided by the Perse and subsequently recognised it officially as a Science School.

After moving to the Hills Road site the Revd. Child drew attention to the insufficient accommodation available for his students and staff stating that some lessons were held in the staff common-room. During the first decade of the 20th century a series of new classrooms were constructed and the School gradually expanded its footprint. The advent of the First World War halted further expansion until 1920. Piecemeal building continued during the next thirty years with a second floor being added to the School together with an assembly hall, canteen and new laboratory space.

Under Child's leadership the School established a football team and a band. He began the tradition of annual Speech Days where prizes were awarded to worthy students. In 1904 the Cadet Corps was formed. The School also began to publish its own newsletter. Child was a strict disciplinarian and was known to carry out ad hoc inspections of classes and lockers while wearing silent rubber soled shoes. As the School increased in size the number of staff grew in proportion. Teachers in modern languages, science and botany were amongst the first to join. Any shortfalls in staff were met by the Headmaster who, at one time or another, taught just about every course offered beyond his favoured subjects of English Grammar and Scripture.

The Cambridge and County School for Boys was initially managed by the County and Borough Education Committees. After the school opened a joint committee was created with its membership drawn from the County Council, Borough Council, the University of Cambridge and staff. In April 1903 the Managing Committee was renamed the Governors' meeting. School Governors served a one year term and met at least quarterly. The Governor's duties included administering school finances, the appointment and dismissal of headmasters and assistant masters and the conduct of the curriculum. All of these functions were in accordance with the instruments and articles of governance set out by the Cambridgeshire Education Authority. Between 1917 and 1918 the governing body was renamed the Cambridge and County School for Boys Sub-Committee and, 1923 the Cambridgeand County High School for Boys Sub-Committee of the Cambridgeshire Education Committee. Staff representation on the Committee was subsequently dropped and later replaced by a single governor appointed by the Parents' Association.

The academic development of the School did not unfold as Keen and the founders had originally intended. Despite offering an agricultural programme most students opted for a more general education in science and maths. In effect students were being somewhat unintentionally prepared for science based higher education rather than immediate careers in farming, market gardening etc. Board of Education directives reinforced the tendency towards further education, including a 1917 announcement of special grants to schools providing courses designed to lead to advanced study. These inducements and directives influenced the Governors and subsequent headmasters including Major C.J.R. Whitmore and A.B. Mayne. By 1929 the School offered advanced courses in English, Classics, Modern Languages, History, Science and Math tailored to the needs of the sixth form.

In 1923 the Governors' met to discuss altering the name of the School. After careful deliberation they arrived at The Cambridge and County High School for Boys. This subtle change was intended to reflect that the School was not a 'county' school associated with low leaving age and limited opportunities for advancement to university. In 1946 the name was changed again, this time to the simplified Cambridgeshire High School for Boys.

Under Mayne's leadership from the 1923 to 1946 a school-wide marking system was introduced in order that the Headmaster could audit the progress of students and make corrections as needed. Mayne also introduced some 300 Rules of Conduct governing the behaviour of students. He was a tremendously hard worker and was interested at all levels in the running of the School. Under Mayne the High School's transition from a science school training rural professionals to a grammar school preparing students for university was completed.

By 1950 the School served over 500 pupils and was taught entirely by men. Female staff were employed to prepare meals and clean the premises. Of the pupils the majority now came from Cambridge City whereas in early days the reverse was so. In 1951 the 'O' Level and Advanced 'A' Level of the General Certificate of Education were introduced nationally. This system offered students considerably greater flexibility in the subjects attempted though scholars aiming for Oxford were still required to pass Latin. Academic standards at the School remained high, with excellent performance by the A and B forms, though the C form lagged behind during the 1950s and 1960s. Two graduates of note from the early 1960s were Pink Floyd founder members Roger Waters and Roger Barrett.

In addition to pure academic life the School also had its own Dramatic Society, Scientific Society, the affiliated 7th Cambridgeshire Scout Group, Debating Society, Rowing Club, Combined Cadet Force plus rugby, cricket, football and hockey teams. The School choir and orchestra frequently performed alongside their opposite numbers from the Cambridgeshire High School for Girls.

The first major post-war building project at the School was a new gymnasium with science laboratories completed in 1958 under the auspices of Headmaster William Eagling. It was only in the 1950s that indoor lavatories were installed at the School to the great relief of the students. During the early 1970s a generous donation from High School Old Boy Sir David Robinson allowed for the construction of a new Arts Centre for the thriving student Dramatic Society. These works were soon followed by a major overhaul of the main three-floored building.

Beyond The Cambridge and County High School for Boys major developments were taking shape concerning the provision of education across the country. In 1965 the Labour Government of Harold Wilson issued Circular 10/65 instructing local education authorities to prepare options for the reorganisation of schools in their jurisdiction to a comprehensive system. This circular spurred feverish activity among a number of ad hoc committees established by Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council and numerous public consultations. After prolonged negotiation it was agreed to create a sixth form college for 16 to 19 year old pupils out of the existing Cambridge and County High School for Boys. On 15 September 1974 Hills Road Sixth Form College was created. The choice of name was not initially popular, particularly with alumni who generally favoured 'The Cantabrigian' for the new title.

The majority of former School staff were released and then immediately re-employed in similar posts to those they had previously occupied. New staff also arrived, including female teachers from the Grammar School for Girls. New lavatories were installed to allow for female students and staff though in appearance very little at the College changed. It was not until 1978 that the transition from High School to College was completed when the last grammar school intake reached the age of 16. With this period complete the new Hills Road Sixth Form College drew its students predominately from local secondary schools and village colleges.

Colin Hill served as Headmaster (and later Principal) throughout the transitional period, being appointed in 1969 and remaining in post until 1984. In 1974 Mrs S. Clarke, late of the Cambridge Grammar School for Girls, was appointed Vice Principal. Governance of the College was vested in a new Board of Governors organised along similar lines to that formerly administering the Boys' High School. However the new Board included two representatives appointed by the Parents' Association, two representatives appointed by the teachers and one appointed by the students.

Teaching at the new co-educational College proceeded smoothly with both teachers and students quickly acclimating to new circumstances. Unlike the High School the College did not have a dress code. By 1979 the fully fledged College counted 262 boys and 209 girls. Consistent academic successes caused this number to increase to 609 by 1984 though Hill had attempted unsuccessfully to cap the number of pupils at 500. Growing numbers inevitably placed a strain upon the existing infrastructure and facilities. However it was not until after Hill's retirement and the appointment of the new Principal Colin Greenhalgh that a new round of extensions would be carried out.

In 1985 the County Council launched an ambitious building programme at the College at a cost of approximately £285,000. Temporary classrooms were erected while the old dining hall was demolished. Two new biology laboratories were built plus five new classrooms for history and geography. These, plus other works were completed in early 1991. The opening ceremony was attended by the Duke of Edinburgh on 08 February. Another round of construction began in 1995, this time focusing on a sport and tennis centre, a new classroom block, an art and design centre, a new music department and the expansion of the library. This project cost £3 million and was completed in 1997. The laying of the foundation stone saw The Princess Royal, Princess Anne in attendance on 17 April 1996.

In 1992 under the leadership of Prime Minister John Major and his Secretary of Education, Kenneth Clarke all post-sixteen colleges were removed from local education authority control to operate as largely autonomous institutions. This change practically meant that the College had the freedom to develop its own curriculum and also became the direct employer of its teaching and support staff. These changes coincided with a reduction in financial support from central government coupled with incentives to increase the number of places offered at the College. By 1998 the student roll had swelled to over 1,400. Despite this dramatic increase the level of academic performance at Hills Road remained very high. Following its first inspection by the Further Education Funding Council during 1995 and 1996 the College received thirteen grade ones and three grade twos from sixteen total scoring areas.

In 1999 Hills Road was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for excellence in academic work, performing and visual arts and sport. On 11 February 1999 a delegation from the College including Greenhalgh and the Chairman of the Governors Loder Bevington attended the award ceremony at Buckingham Palace. During the next academic year the College marked its centenary. The 1999/2000 year saw over 1,500 students enrolled plus an additional 2,500 adults taking part in the College's now thriving continuing education programme. The College also has the distinction of being rated outstanding across all areas of inspection by Ofsted in 2001 and 2006. It therefore became the first centre in the country to receive 'designated outstanding' status, meaning it is no longer subject to routine inspections, but is liable to be 'spot checked' at any time to ensure standards are kept high.

Currently (2015) the College is governed by the Hills Road Sixth Form College Corporation. The Corporation has overall responsibility for the mission, direction, solvency and future development of the College. To assist in this process the Corporation regularly receives a wide range of reports, including teaching and finance, and works closely with the senior management team, whom it is responsible for appointing. The Corporation has three primary committees, Audit, Search and Governance and Remuneration.


This collection is arranged as follows:

  • C/ES30C/1 - Governance records
  • C/ES30C/1/1 - Meeting minutes
  • C/ES30C/1/2 - Governing documents and other policy papers
  • C/ES30C/1/3 - Headmasters' reports to the School management
  • C/ES30C/1/4 - Principal's reports to the Governors
  • C/ES30C/1/5 - External inspection reports
  • C/ES30C/1/6 - Deeds
  • C/ES30C/1/7 - School reorganisation records

  • C/ES30C/2 - Operational records
  • C/ES30C/2/1 - Admission registers
  • C/ES30C/2/2 - Log books/visitors books
  • C/ES30C/2/3 - Preliminary returns for secondary schools
  • C/ES30C/2/4 - Correspondence and reports
  • C/ES30C/2/5 - Student work and examinations
  • C/ES30C/2/6 - Prospectuses
  • C/ES30C/2/7 - Student handbooks
  • C/ES30C/2/8 - Timetables
  • C/ES30C/2/9 - Sports records
  • C/ES30C/2/10 - Other student resources

  • C/ES30C/3 - Financial records
  • C/ES30C/3/1 - Annual accounts
  • C/ES30C/3/2 - Cash books
  • C/ES30C/3/3 - Trinity Choristers' accounts
  • C/ES30C/3/4 - Magazine Fund accounts
  • C/ES30C/3/5 - Tuck Shop accounts
  • C/ES30C/3/6 - School Dinner Fund accounts
  • C/ES30C/3/7 - School prize funds

  • C/ES30C/4 - Staff records
  • C/ES30C/4/1 - Staff registers
  • C/ES30C/4/2 - Other staff records

  • C/ES30C/5- Property records
  • C/ES30C/5/1 - Plans, reports and correspondence
  • C/ES30C/5/2 - Inventory books
  • C/ES30C/5/3 - Property insurance

  • C/ES30C/6 - Photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/1 - Class photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/2 - Sports team photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/3 - Staff photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/4 - Cadet Corps photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/5 - School photo albums
  • C/ES30C/6/6 - Prize photographs
  • C/ES30C/6/7 - Other photographs and albums

  • C/ES30C/7 - Publications and programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/1 - Press cuttings
  • C/ES30C/7/2 - Yearbooks
  • C/ES30C/7/3 - School periodicals
  • C/ES30C/7/4 - Speech Day/Prize Giving programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/5 - Theatre, dance and musical programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/6 - Choir and orchestra programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/7 - Christmas carol service programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/8 - Sports programmes
  • C/ES30C/7/9 - Other programmes and orders of service
  • C/ES30C/7/10 - School history publications and related papers
  • C/ES30C/7/11 - Other publications

  • C/ES30C/8 - Clubs
  • C/ES30C/8/1 - Literary and Debating Society
  • C/ES30C/8/2 - 7th Cambridge Scout Group

  • C/ES30C/9 - Parents' Association records
  • C/ES30C/9/1 - Meeting minutes
  • C/ES30C/9/2 - Accounts
  • C/ES30C/9/3 - Correspondence

  • C/ES30C/10 - Alumni group records
  • C/ES30C/10/1 - Old Cantabrigians Society
  • C/ES30C/10/2 - Old Cantabrigian Rugby Club
  • C/ES30C/10/3 - Cantabrigian Rowing Club

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