“The Reflections of two Old Cryptians”


Howard Allen (1947-55) former Headmaster of Keswick School and Charlie Hannaford (1956-64) former Headmaster of Seaford College.

 Prior to our headships both of us had been in posts of senior management in a co-educational context and we carried forward our experience and expertise. Charlie had to hand the knowledge of teaching at the co-educational Millfield School and also he had been the master i/c the Sixth Form House for boys and girls at Rendcomb College, near Cirencester.

Howard had been a housemaster at Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire of a day/boarding for boys and girls aged 14-18. This was after a spell in a boys’ school an enriching experience.

Charlie introduced co-education into Seaford College.  Predictably his hard work paid dividends and now some 20 years on there is a flourishing co-educational sixth form at the college.

Co-education has a distinguished and proven record in England that extends back to the late nineteenth century. For example, Keswick School in Cumberland was re-founded in 1898 as a co-educational day and boarding school. It was the first of its kind in England.

Howard was privileged to be the headmaster of Keswick School, a voluntary aided school, for nigh on 20 years. He has been ever grateful to the founders and headmasters before him who had established a most successful fully co-educational school.

Keswickians, past and present, of both sexes, acknowledge the ambience and ethos that is so special in a co-educational environment. 

We would like to share with our readers, and not least, former pupils, a sense of our strong belief in the benefits and values of the co-educational structure in secondary schools.

  • In the best co-educational schools will be found a set of values prevalent in the well run/rounded family home. Also family members can attend the same school. In time the next and future generations will help to build up the kind of family nexus that brings strength to the school.
  • Pupils become well versed in the natural practice of living and working alongside one another. They become adept at working in teams within the classroom, the laboratory and the workshop.
  • Sharing, co-operation and mutual respect become the norms of interpersonal behaviour. However the stimulus of healthy competition is not precluded but the domination of one gender over another is deemed unacceptable.
  • The opportunities afforded to pupils in the classroom naturally extend to extracurricular activities e.g. music, drama, dance, mixed sports e.g. hockey, tennis, cricket, basketball and soccer, and outdoor education and charity work.
  • Opportunities of learning the art of leadership in a co-educational setting are readily available. For example, the school’s executive can provide excellent experience of collaborative working practice. In turn there is a rich learning curve available for a young person of either gender when providing leadership as School Captain.
  • The social interaction between young people experiencing the vicissitudes of adolescence is ‘less rough hewn’ in a co-educational school. Caring relationships, a mutual respect and a greater degree of sensitivity become the priorities.
  • Irrespective of gender, social class or family background countless numbers of young people will proceed to Higher Education and/or proceed to the world of work via the enrichment of their experiences of co-education. 
  • Skilled in social interaction across the gender divide, former students enter the adult world better equipped to manage their lives and make a balanced contribution in their place of work.

We believe that the Crypt has laid already a splendid foundation for the establishment of a co-educational school for young people aged 11-18.

In 2017 the school will celebrate 40 years of the introduction of young ladies into its sixth form. This innovation has proved to be a commendable success. In addition already 50% of the teaching staff is female and the staff, both male and female, are proven in   their teaching of boys and girls.

We are most supportive of the initiatives for the introduction of co-education across the full age range in our alma mater. We are excited by the proposals to extend further the windows of opportunity for boys and girls. We applaud too the plans that seek to place the future of the school on a sound financial basis.

We have every confidence that with the leadership of the headmaster, Nick Dyer, and the chairman, Richard James, the school will go forward famously and soon will become one of the top selective co-educational day schools in the United Kingdom.

We wish the headmaster, staff and pupils every success during the next phase of development in the history of The Crypt.







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