Skip to content ↓
Worthing High School

Worthing High School

Memories of Worthing High for Girls

Memories of Worthing High for Girls by Margaret Hallard née Jones

I joined Worthing High School for Girls in September 1956. It was a grammar school which selected pupils from the surrounding district on the basis of the 11+ results. From Bognor to Southwick and as far as Storrington, pupils came in by train, bus, cycle or walking, Very few came by car.         

Our uniform was bottle green skirts and blazers and berets, together with grey jumpers and long green raincoats. Sportswear was navy shorts and aertex shirts Summer and Winter. Our kit was inspected for name tapes at the beginning of each term, with penalties if anything was forgotten.

My first classroom was at the front of the school near the entrance. Thirty in a class of desks in rows made good discipline a matter of course. We used pens which had a wooden handle and a nib which buckled under my efforts to write with it. We had to dip the nib in the ink well repeatedly to write one word. The desks had lids which came up so that we could pin a timetable under it ….or pictures of a favourite popstar.

Term began with a Christian assembly and the hymn”Lord behold us with thy blessing once again assembled here.” I well remember the beautiful wood panelled hall with light streaming through the windows and the sixth form in the gallery above us.

It was a good way to begin the day, and to set a bench mark for values throughout our lives.

Generally the staff were firm but fair, though we all had our favourites. I call to mind our lovely Latin teacher, Miss Fisher, who occasionally had a fit of the giggles, and our maths teacher Miss Darling who endeared herself to us all when she came as a most believable tramp with blacked out teeth to our Tramps’ supper one Guy Fawkes night.

The year turned on the seasonal events of all school years, the Autumn fair to raise money for charity, the house choir competition, hockey and netball matches, tennis and rounders matches, sports day, exams, and Shakespeare Day. The climax was Speech Day when awards and prizes were given for sporting and exam success in the Assembly Hall in Worthing.

Shakespeare Day took place in the last week of the Summer term, after exams were over. The opportunity to show initiative and responsibility in costuming, learning lines, preparing scenery, and producing a scene from Shakespeare was a wonderful learning experience for the 15 to 18 year olds. It took place in the beautiful hall and was timed to run throughout the day. In my Science sixth group of no more than twelve, we still put on a good performance of a scene from Richard 111.

The playing field at Worthing High School of course is the same, but in the 50s there was a canteen just to the South of St Lawrence Avenue, tennis courts in front of the gym, adjacent to South Farm Road, and some very old fashioned laboratories coming off the long East West corridor at the West end. These were supported by our lab technician who inhabited a prep room which always smelt strongly of hydrogen sulphide. It was very exciting when a new physics laboratory was built in about 1960, next to a new art room. There was also a lecture theatre where we would sit in raised rows for a good view of the occasional film shown to us. I remember clearly films by Shell, showing the impact of mosquitos, locusts and other insects on the human population. These were rare opportunities to be educated through a screen!

Many of the subjects taught are also taught today of course. We were taught domestic science and needlework, but not DT. There was no computer science, no philosophy, no drama, no Spanish. We had lessons in Religious knowledge (Christianity), and an emphasis on academic subjects.

There were opportunities after school and in the lunch hour to join many different clubs and societies……and we had eight houses the names of which were: Atalanta, Alcestis, Athene, Clare, Cecilia, Penelope (from Greek mythology) and Florence Nightingale and Octavia Hill (founder of The National Trust). Occasionally there was a school outing. I remember a trip to Parham House, a visit to Brighton to see the ballet, Coppelia, and a trip to Wimbledon in the Summer of 63.

My most vivid memories are of the A level course working towards Botany and Zoology. In those days the emphasis was on learning the structure and function of the different parts of the animal, so we had to dissect a dogfish, frog, rat, and rabbit. Ecology, which emphasises the importance of relationships between plants and animals and their environment was never mentioned. I enjoyed microscopy, when we would spend hours making drawings of tissues from microscope slides, and also preparing slides from fresh materials. One most memorable day was spent using quadrats on the steep slope of Bury Hill, counting the tiny chalkland plants…one of the best days (except for Shakespeare Day!)