It never fails to impress – that tower.
The first time I saw the imposing, upright structure along with the striking war memorial and yellow sandstone buildings, I was hugely impressed. I hadn’t thought that it would ever be possible to climb to the top; most school towers being rather crumbling, dank, forgotten spaces. I wasn’t entirely sure then, why I found myself on the last day of the school term with Maths teacher Darren Brumby and Chris Scott the school’s Estates Manager, climbing up the stairs of the tower. It was Darren’s idea as it was his last day at the school and it seemed like a pretty good one at the time. Once half way up, we stopped for a stroll around the first level balcony. The views over the city centre are quite magnificent, especially on a day which is sunny and clear. Darren and Chris then continued to climb all the way to the top of the tower, where the school standard and Union Jack fly. Not having much of a head for heights I stayed behind in the “Prefects Discipline Room”. This suited me entirely, not least because I was able to wonder around the room by myself, imagining what it must have been like to be a prefect, or a young miscreant awaiting his fate. Looking at the signatures on the walls, I wondered where the boys, no, men are now. I wonder if when they see the images in this post, they will remember what they were doing in that room and what sort of future they imagined for themselves.
I found a little information on the “Prefects Discipline Room” from Wikipedia (and vouched for by an anonymous forum contributor.) which I’ve included below:
“Historically the Tower was the exclusive domain of the Prefects. Within its walls solemn meetings were held and the daily round of canings distributed, to be performed in the presence of the School Captain.”(Wikipedia)
“…prefects were empowered to administer canings of up to 3 strokes.” “Normally, I am no fan of Wikipedia, for reasons not relevant to this posting. However, I can personally attest to the accuracy of the article here which, up to the abolition of caning, describes the system of prefectorial punishment at the school while I was there. The only time I saw a cane in my entire school career was at my one appearance before the prefects’ court as a frightened 13 year old. Although the cane could not be used without at least a 24 hour interval to permit an appeal, it was always laid on the table in full sight of the unfortunates brought before the prefects’ court. I happily escaped the cane for my offence (running in a quad where only walking was allowed), and was let off with lines.” (Another Lurker)
“In an era turning away from old, strict and inflexible ways the Prefects voted to remove their right to cane. So moved was the then headmaster Ken Imeson, that he not only changed the rules regarding them, but also resolved never to use corporal punishment again himself.” (Wikipedia)
Over the last couple of years as a teacher at the school, I do think that the emphasis on students’ behaviour is focused more on rewards than on sanctions, more on monitoring and managing student’s efforts rather than punishment. I would have to hold my hand up and say that I wasn’t brave enough to read through A.W. Thomas’ A History of Nottingham High School, but would really like to know if the Wikipedia assertions above are correct. Was this room the “Prefects Discipline Room”? Do any past prefects have memories of it? Can you identify the signatures on the walls? If anyone has first-hand knowledge of this, it would be great to hear from you. Comments and memories all gratefully received.
Kerry Turner (Director of ICT)
Prefects: Pupils Punishing Pupils: http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/thread/1216430161/1223639207/Prefects-++Pupils+Punishing+Pupils. (Another Lurker)