History – Chapter 7

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Kilburn Senior High School was established in 1967 as a non-selective school admitting pupils from “Junior High Schools” at the age of 13+. For several years a majority of its members were the grammar school intake and a number of the staff remained, most notable among them being John Mathew who in 1978 retired after twenty-seven years in three schools on the Salusbury Road site.

The opponents of the change had maintained that the academic standards and the “ethos” of KGS could not survive the proposed alterations. In the first matter comparison is scarcely possible between two such fundamentally different arrangements. It could only be made on a borough or perhaps a Willesden basis. In the second instance the critics were proved sadly correct.

Certain changes consonant with the spirit of the times had indeed already been made and more would have taken place even without reorganisation. The prefect system had had its day as an elite and had become a sixth form duty. Speech day, perhaps the most ancient of all the traditions, was modified in 1966 and the next year abandoned in favour of a social gathering. It is also true that efforts were made to keep continuity. The school badge was retained. Concerts and plays were still presented. “The Kilburnian” continued to appear, in printed form until at least 1969 and as a duplicated publication until 1973.

Nevertheless it became increasingly clear that the corporate spirit, which had marked so much of the life of KGS, was not sustainable. It disappeared as the KGS intake moved out of the school. Clubs and societies withered and died with increasing frequency. The house system was abandoned from lack of support in 1971. School sports teams found difficulty in fielding full numbers. Saddest of all was evidence that contemporary pupils were not only indifferent, but even hostile, to the old traditions. There was vandalism of the honours boards and after 1973 they were removed from the Creighton Hall as having no further significance for the school.

Kilburn Senior High School had followed Kilburn Grammar School into history in 1973, when an amalgamation with the girls’ school produced a new “Brondesbury and Kilburn High School”. In 1976 Michael Brilliant was appointed its headmaster and in this we may count ourselves fortunate. An “Old Creightonian” himself, he has done much to rescue and preserve material relics of the life of the old school. Surviving Old Boys of all eras will wish him well as he seeks to build a school as worthy as, yet inevitably different from the one which they knew.

Next: Roll of Honour

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