The Shelley school, built to replace the outdated Victorian buildings of Haywards school, was opened on the 19th October 1962 by Sir John Shelley, a County Councillor and also a governor at Haywards and Queen Elizabeths Grammar School. His family coat of arms still hangs in a prominent position in the foyer of the Lower School. The site at Barnfield Hill was chosen in preference to Exhibition Road or Forches Cross, which remained as sports fields for the Grammar School. The austere buildings provided good practical facilities, and the school was enlarged by the construction of two HORSA blocks built to accommodate students staying on after the school leaving age was raised. These two blocks act as the Science and Maths areas at the Lower School. It seems, however, that as with much 1960s building, plans were not fully put into practice- the original plans show covered walkways and recreation areas that were never built.
Although the Shelley school was a designated secondary modern school, and therefore its students were those who had not passed the 11 plus examination, nevertheless it soon built a strong reputation for standards. It had a clear and well enforced behaviour policy, with strict uniform and discipline(see Chris Theedom’s account, below). Boys wore caps, and girls wore berets; both seem to have been unpopular with the students (see Helen Mardon’s account in the memories section). The curriculum was dominated by practical subjects, including needlework, woodwork and technical drawing. The Shelley school was well respected for its sporting activities, several students and teams collecting district and county honours. It also developed secretarial courses and typing at time when they were not available in many schools. The staff were well liked and respected; the first Headteacher , Oliver Rigby moved across to become Head of QE co-educational Grammar School. In 1973, the Shelley school merged with QE to form the Queen Elizabeth’s School and Community College. Many former students of Shelley have recalled their schooldays when visiting the current QE Lower School as parents. The following recollections by one former student prove the affection felt for another outstanding school in Crediton. Other former students are invited to send in their memories to the appropriate section of this website.
Chris Theedom recalls his time at Shelley, 1962-1967:
Memories of Shelley School
Name: Chris Theedom
Dates attended Shelley School: From when it opened. I was then in the 1st year.
Current Occupation: Accountant
What can you remember about lessons, uniform rules at Shelley?
To begin with the uniform and rules seemed excessive, but the vast majority soon became used to it, looking as good if not better than the Grammar School. When visiting other schools, most of us realised how smart we looked and took great pride in our school.
The school was properly run through an organised and disciplined set of rules and we all soon realised that they were there to make our days at school as enjoyable as possible without inhibiting our enjoyment and learning. They were never a problem, and the vast majority of students were allowed to learn without hinderence.
Lessons were easy to follow and understand, and teachers themselves were also very disciplined and organised. The teachers were also new and enthusiastic and very smart in appearance. No nonsense in the classroom policy!
What were your favourite lessons, and why?
P.E – Because I enjoyed sport and we were very lucky to have a lot of talented sports teachers who were good and enthusiastic, and organised a huge amount of after-school activities.>
History (Mrs Pope) and Geography (Mr Hayes) - they had very interesting lessons and were fair but extremely hot on discipline, which enabled vast majority of us to concentrate on lessons.
Did you take part in sporting or musical activities?
Sport but not music. Sport at Shelley School became over the years that I attended, a very important part of school life, with all of the many individuals and team achievements celebrated regularly by the whole school at morning assembly (not just sport though – all achievements).
Sports teachers gave up huge amounts of time and they soon began to produce a string of International, regional and county players, especially in football and basketball. Everyone had the opportunity to take part in many diverse sports ad activities. The Chess club, ballroom dancing were some of the many after-school activities, and almost all the teachers gave up their time to take after school events free of charge. Wonderful times! A football fixture list of 40 or more games was the "norm" at the time.
What sort of reputation did Shelley School have in Crediton and further afield?
It is difficult to say, but I can report that after leaving school and speaking to many sportsmen and businessmen who attended Exeter schools, it soon became apparent that they were envious of our reputation, smartness and pride in our school. (All directed from the top by Mr Rigby). Reports in the local paper were common place, and I'm sure local Kirtonians must have been proud to have two excellent schools with very similar aims.
Basically for those who wanted to learn and excel, the rules of the school gave you every encouragement. For those that didn't (a very small minority), they were nevertheless encouraged and catered for, but they were not allowed to disrupt in anyway the normal running of the school or those pupils that wanted to succeed.