This week we continue the history of The Beaconsfield School by looking at the development of the school from 1918 to 1940.

Following the 1918 Fisher Education Act, which raised the school leaving age to 14, the Church of England Education establishment, which ran the Beaconsfield schools, planned to amalgamate the infants’, boys’ and girls’ schools, reorganise them into junior and senior departments, and make them co-educational from June 1921. The head teachers of the original schools all retired in 1920.

On June 1st 1921, Samuel Herbert Dyer was appointed Headmaster of the Beaconsfield (Senior Department) Church of England School, which at that time had 243 pupils. These were aged 8 to 14 years. The Seniors occupied three large rooms at the north end of the Old Church School in Windsor End, the Junior department occupied the rest of the building.

Headmaster Samuel Dyer

Samuel Dyer was to serve as headmaster for nearly 20 years, during which time he made a great impact on the operation of the school.

He had been born in Trowbridge in Wiltshire in 1878 and then qualified as a teacher in 1899. Whilst working as a teacher in Newbury in Berkshire he met Nellie Maud Callis and they married in 1902. The couple had three children, all of whom had their mother’s surname as a second name. In about 1905 Samuel was appointed Head Teacher at Princes Risborough school and the family lived at Parkside in the town.

In 1921 the family moved to Beaconsfield when Samuel was appointed Headmaster. Here he was responsible for a number of positive innovations, including a school choir; an orchestra able to compete on a regional basis; a prefect system; a house system; open days; reports to parents; school productions; school trips; Bird and Tree Days; talks by visiting speakers and annual trips by train to the seaside for pupils and parents. His wife Nellie also worked at the school in the 1920s as an uncertificated supply teacher.

Many older Beaconsfield people remembered Samuel Dyer for his organisation of trips to the seaside. This happened at a time when many people living inland had never seen the sea. Samuel Dyer chartered whole trains on the June Saturday nearest the longest day to places such as Margate, Aberystwyth, Weymouth, Torquay and Weston-Super­ Mare. For these trips money was saved by the children during the whole year.Until the early 1990s, former Beaconsfield pupils had an annual get together when they reminisced about their time as “Sammy’s Boys and Girls”.

A new school building

In 1927 the managers of the school decided a new school building was needed. Three factors led to this. Firstly, the Government’s Haddow Report of 1926 had recommended secondary education for all from age 11. Secondly, by 1927 the buildings on the Windsor End site were in a poor state of repair. Thirdly, the School roll was growing - there were nearly 400 children by 1930.

These factors were responsible for a lengthy period of activity in order to raise funds to provide a new school. A football pitch in Aylesbury End was purchased from Lord Burnham. Plans were prepared by architects, Burgess, Holden and Watson. The estimated cost of the new school was £6000 and subscriptions were sought to raise the money.

In 1930, £1775 of the £6000 still had to be found. The Rector, the Rev. Wells, and Mr Dyer organised events, including a School Week in June, to raise the rest of the money. School Week opened with a ceremony in the rectory garden. Guests included the wife of the local MP, who was on the LEA committee, the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and the novelist Edgar Wallace (creator of King Kong). Other fundraising events included an American tea, garden fetes and galas, a floral fair, trips around Beaconsfield, a whist drive, a concert and a performance (Shock-Headed Peter) by the children. The children raised £100 themselves in penny subscriptions.

In October 1931 work started on the new school, its foundation stone being laid in December. The Beaconsfield (Senior Department) Church of England School was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford on 19th July 1932 after five years of hard work and fundraising. The building was designed to accommodate 160 children. It had four classrooms, staff accommodation, two cloak rooms and toilets. It also had central heating, electric lighting and woodblock floors. It actually cost £6,500 (under £500,000 at 2018 values) while the County Education Committee furnished it for a further £300. The children aged 11 to 14, not selected for grammar school, moved to the new school off Aylesbury End. Mr Dyer continued as Head Teacher.

Beaconsfield pupils aged under 11 (some 250 of them) remained at the school in Windsor End, which was now called the Church of England Primary School. Miss Harrington Wright was the Head Teacher. The primary school remained there until 1958 when it moved to a new site on Maxwell Road, as St Mary and All Saints Church of England Primary School.

The End of an Era

With the outbreak of the Second World War at the beginning of September 1939, five London schools were evacuated to Beaconsfield to share the Aylesbury End site.

Samuel Dyer retired on 28th August 1940. However on several occasions during the war, he returned to the school as a supply teacher. He declined to do so again after a particularly bad period of teacher shortage in 1944. After the war Samuel Dyer helped to set up a youth club in Beaconsfield. He died in 1964.

The Beaconsfield School Festival

From noon to 5pm on July 9 the school is organising a festival to celebrate the 90th anniversary of being located on their present site in Wattleton Road. This will be for alumni and invited students. It will include an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia, and feature performances by local schools, food, drink and the cutting of an anniversary cake.