Francis Bacon/SRA school history

Once the 1944 Education Act was implemented and schools were deemed Technical (only one at Hatfield), Secondary Modern or Grammar, it was clear that too small a proportion of each succeeding year's eleven-year-olds tranche succeeded in being admitted to the boys' and girls' grammar schools through the Eleven Plus examination format. It appeared this examination was setting up the majority of pupils to fail to win places.

The education authority therefore took on the Drakes Drive site to open a mixed grammar school, and it opened as Francis Bacon School. Unfortunately the plan for opening in time for the September 1961 intake was delayed by the building works.

Instead, the school opened in September 1960 in the former Alma Road School, moving to its permanent site in 1962.

The uniform colour consisted of dark green with a yellow wolf's head. Ties were green and yellow stripes.

The school ceased to be a grammar school in line with the policy for other schools in the district, and was designated Comprehensive in 1975 (?).

In c2012 it joined the Sir John Lawes Academies Trust, changing its name to Samuel Ryder Academy. The Academy is an "all-through" establishment, admitting children and students from aged 4 to 19.

The photos below show the original building works in progress. Note how close the buildings are to Drakes Drive.

Stacks Image 237
FBS unfinished classroom block

Photos courtesy Chris Neighbour.

FBS unfinished practical block
School lineup at Alma Road in 1961
FBS at Alma Road

Photo owner unknown.

This must be the first school photograph of the formative Francis Bacon school community. It began, as so many schools did, in the premises of the former Alma Road Board School. The picture is probably of 1961 vintage and therefore undoubtedly its very first full school photograph. Until its opening there had been a serious shortage of grammar school places in St Albans, and by opening it as a mixed school, it satisfied the requirements of both girls and boys on the same site. I count 70 pupils and 6 members of staff in its opening year. The small contingent of staff in the front row includes Head Teacher Ralph L F Sexton (4th teacher from left) who remained in post until his retirement in 1988.

Unknown group; year unknown

Photo owner unknown.

By recognising a few students in this photo you may be able to identify the year the picture was taken.

Unknown group; year unknown

Photo owner unknown.

The teacher in the front row is recognised as Mr Bowley, biology. By recognising a few students in this photo you might be able to identify the year the picture was taken.

In an update on August 7th, 2020 the teacher was identified as Mr Marston, rather than Mr Bowley.

A netball team; unknown year
FBS netball team

Photo owner unknown.

The girls in this netball team joined the school in 1975 and left c1980..

BACK ROW L-R: ? , ? , ?
FRONT ROW L-R: Liz ….. , Sue Shortman, Heidi Lever, Sandra Goodband .

Updated September 14th, 2020.

Part of a senior lineup; c1980
FBS 6th form left

Photo owner unknown.

This, and the photo below is undoubtedly the combined sixth year, between 1978 and 1980 and possibly taken in 1980, unless you know differently. How about telling us who you are in this line-up! The names below are from both photographs.

FRONT ROW L-R: Philip Hysom; ? ; ? ; Erica Adams ; ? ; ? ; ? ; ? ; ?
SECOND ROW L-R: ? ; Adrian ……; Chris Brown; Tania Burman; Ian Patient; ? ; Andrew Cullen; Hugh Fraser
THIRD ROW L-R: Sarah Guenier?; ? ; ? ; Rosemary Wang ; Chris Fraser; Martin Lyster; Carmine Procaccini; ? ; Sarah Warden; Heather Seymour
FOURTH ROW L-R: ? ; Rosemary Green; ? ; Sarah Roberts; Elaine Green; Jane Almey; Peter Shepherd; Tim Davey
BACK ROW L-R: Paul …….. ; Alison Clegg : Caroline Wadham ; Kurt Jackson; Crispin Casimir; ?

Updated by Ian May 7th 2021.
Updated by Jane August 7th 2022.

The other half of the above lineup; c1980
FBS 6th form right

Photo owner unknown.

This, and the photo above is undoubtedly the combined sixth year just before leaving in 1980. How about telling us who you are in this line-up! We understand that Malcolm Hyde is in one or the other half, or lucky enough to be in both!
For some of the names in this photo see the annotation of the photo above it.

A senior lineup; sixth form leavers in 1984
FBS 6th form leavers 1984

Photo supplied by Len Bell.

BACK ROW L-R: Gerald Moody, Stephen Brindle, Jim Almey, Jonathan Pigeon, Gareth Williams, John Ruffhead, Paul Scarborough, Jeremy Lock.
THIRD ROW L-R: Dereck Wallace, Andrew Tudbury, Colin Baldock, Helen Gardener, Susan Firth, Stephanie Slee, Helen Stanbury, Sue Storey, Brian Curzon, Peter Langley, Brian Chapman, Chris Sharpe.
SECOND ROW L-R: Heidi Wortley, Fiona Douglas, Sarah Barnes, Karen Foster, Gloria Ascona, Dawn Forsythe, Michaela Mason, Ann Forsythe, Claire Russell.
FRONT ROW L-R: Steve Sunbar, Paul Farrer, Rogan Day, Christopher Whickham, David Silvester, Michael Bentley, David Barnes, ??