Sixth Form Spaces, then and now
Table tennis and a pool table in the sixth form common room! Not in a million years might former Headmistresses have foreseen that the sixth form girls would be letting their hair down in such facilities. Drop in now to the sixth form and you can see them playing, relaxing and watching television in their free time. Turn left past the lockers and what was the Year 13 common room is now a place for both year groups to chill; turn right and the Y12 space boasts state of the art desks for those who want to work.
In our archive there’s a brilliant image of some sixth form girls playing croquet in the ‘70s on a grassy lawn outside the sixth form building, in the space now occupied by the theatre. Does anyone remember that? Or dancing in the Old Gymnasium in the 1970s? Sitting on the bridge chatting, however, transcends all decades. Dip into the photo gallery to see the Centre past and present. No blackboards here anymore, for example.
The sixth form have much for which to thank Miss Prissian. The forward-thinking headmistress of JAGS, 1969-1983, knew the academic and social value of a flourishing sixth form. The previous Headmistress, Miss Edwards, had provided a small common room, though she might not have anticipated their choice of colour scheme – red walls and a black ceiling. The basic problem was that, for both work and play, the Upper Sixth were grouped miles away from the Lower Sixth.
The Governors’ hard-wrestled solution was to build a separate block for the sixth form, releasing more space in the main school. Work began in 1973 with the demolition of the air raid shelter and an appeal was launched for £50,000. Despite the frustrations of a national 3-day working week, the Sixth Form Centre was unveiled on time in the autumn of 1974 with a grand flourish – an Open Day for parents, pupils and alumnae.
Since then, the Centre’s common rooms and kitchen have been cosy sanctuaries for confidences, tea and toast, artistic preparation spaces for House charity events, even tutor group meetings. The seminar rooms above continue to provide the space in lessons for sparky discussion, debate and, at lunchtimes, clubs for all ages. The Lecture Theatre has hosted many brilliant and influential speakers and women ambassadors, to give inspiration, information and perspective to our pupils as they soak up their subjects and consider their futures. Long may that be our desire and our achievement.
Some details taken from Brian’s Green’s History of JAGS, To Read and Sew…