How Posh?


Buzzfeed had a quiz, as Buzzfeed are wont to do: How Posh Was Your School? I gave it a go and thought the results were pretty reasonable until I started seeing what my peers on social media were scoring: few made it into the teens. Was my coal-field comprehensive really so impressive?

Here's Sophie Gadd's ticklist from that Buzzfeed quiz, alongside a summary of how close Dinnington gets. I've given half marks in places, and I leave it to you to determine how appropriate that might be. I'll give scores for all three extremes at the end of the list.

A theatre

0.5  
While there is no designated "theatre", the Main Hall was designed with a back-stage area to facilitate theatrical performances. Half marks.
A library
1
The school initially lacked a library, so one had to be improvised. The Boys' School was the first to utilise their 600sq.ft. room at the front of Lower School for the task, and the Girls' School had followed suit by the 1950s when the collections were 1550 and 1750 books respectively. Upper School's library was in the Admin Block before the erection of the purpose-built Library Building in the 1980s, and moved back there at the turn of the millennium.
An art gallery
0.5
Not a 'gallery' as such, but the Reception area has always held a display of students' artwork, and Lower School had been decorated with art prints since 1950.
A fancy garden
1
Fancy' is in the eye of the beholder, but the quadrangles of Lower School were well-planted, and the grounds are not without flowebeds, bushes and trees. We're talking about a school that used to teach Agriculture and Rural Studies. Mr Whitehead even taught Gardening back in the 1950s. More recently, the school has gained a memorial garden in honour of Mr Lovett.
A greenhouse
0.5
...So it's not surprising that there was a greenhouse or three. Admittedly these now belong to the Tech, so only half marks.
A chapel
0
Our first all-out 'fail' on the posh list.
A choir
1
In the Drinkwater days, boys' choir practice was Monday, 12:40pm. By the 1990s it was Mrs Leeder in charge of things.
An orchestra
1
How can you have school musicals without a school orchestra?
A recording studio
1
In the 1990s, Hatfield had an Atari ST, which isn't quite the same thing, but as time has gone on, so the technology has grown.
Fees
0
Heaven forfend. 
A Latin motto
0
Singulos universosque obtestantes.
Latin lessons
1
We may not have had a Latin motto, but we had Latin lessons: when Dinnington High School was created in 1963 it was felt that in order to be properly Comprehensive, one or two Grammar disciplines were needed on the syllabus. Hence the presence of Mr Adcock. Latin was still being taught into the 1990s.
French lessons
1
French first arrived at the Boys' Department in September 1948. It was revived at the Mixed Modern ten years later with the arrival of Mr Ramsden, who also introduced German and Spanish as club activities.
Founder's Day
0
Sir Percy Jackson (Lightning Thief and chair of the West Riding LEA) opened the original school. Mrs A Rastall was the first chair of the Kiveton Park District Education Sub-Committee that brought it into being. The latter gave her name to the Rastall House Championship Shield. Cups also accompany the equivalent players at the start of the Comprehensive era: Jack Longland (Director of Education for Derbyshire) and Mrs M A Butterfield (head of the board of governors). But none of these characters have their own day...
A statue of the founder
0
...nor their own statue.
An old boys/girls network
0
Hardly. Though there have been recent attempts to create an alumni association.
A pool
1
Oh yes...
A giant fancy building
0.5
That word 'fancy' again. But Upper School is by the esteemed firm of Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Fergusson, Edinburgh: kind of the equivalent of getting a Wilkinson Eyre today. I'd say that's quite fancy. But I'm not sure it's entirely what this category is after.
A proper gym
1
The Old Gym has been with us since 1938. It is, unequivocably, a 'proper gym', with wallbars and medicine balls and everything. It even had modern equipment with weights and pullies and stuff.
Tennis courts
1
These were built as part of the Upper School development in the 1960s. They may not be grass or clay-court, but they're unquestionably tennis courts all the same.
A rugby pitch
1
Rugby arrived at Dinnington in the kit-bag of Mr Tate back in the mid-'60s. And there's more than one rugby pitch. Do we get extra points for that?
An athletics track
1
Ah, the Plateau. Established 1965. Last one round gets a hot bottom.
Ski trips
0
Not to the best of my knowledge, but it's not impossible.
School trips to another continent
0.5
This, however, did happen. The rugby team went on an American tour, for instance. Admittedly, such things were rare. Hence the half-marks.
Famous alumni
0
Unless you count the odd lower-league footballer, rugby player, etc., or the Lisa Marie Experience, then I don't think there's anyone that particularly qualifies. Mr Carnall and Mr Rouse have had their share of fame, but they're staff so don't count.
Royal alumni
0
Not that I'm aware of.
A speech day
1
An award day, which amounts to the same thing, I think. 
Prefects
1
They loitered outside the toilets. Because that was the happening place to loiter. They didn't carry any meaningful authority but they did have a shiny badge.
A head boy/girl
0
I've not seen any mention of it anywhere. It certainly wasn't going on in my time.
Boarding houses
0
The Boys' School had houses before 1940, and the Girls' got them in 1942. In 1946, the Boys' houses were called Priory, Grange, Abbey and Manor. With the amalgamation in 1957, the houses were Thoresby, Haddon, Chatsworth and Priory. though these had reduced to simply Blue, Green, Red and Yellow by the time of the merger in 1963. That's when Athorpe, Hatfield, Osborne and Segrave arrive on the scene. But at no point were any of these houses dormitory (unless one counts the brief period when the army took over the school), so nul points.
A 'dining room'
0.5
The Lower School halls doubled as dining rooms. The Upper School house bases likewise. They're designed as such, with adjoining kitchens. But they're not uniquely 'dining rooms'. Half-marks for ubiquity.
Nice(ish) school dinners
1
Another personal judgement, but if you were at the head of the queue and had first pick then you were in for something niceish. So yes, we'll have that one.
A scary headmaster/headmistress
0.5
One of the heads has been described as "distasteful", another "firm but fair", but that's as bad a press as any get. I'm going to be generous and award half a point on the assumption that at least some of the earlier heads were a bit stern.
Saturday classes
0.5
Not sure about Saturday classes as such, but holiday revision classes have been a thing. Let's go half-marks again.
A sanitorium
0
I don't think a nurse's office (in the ground floor of the Admin Block) really counts.
A polo team
0
Hatfield tuck shop had fruit polos. But that's not quite the same thing.
A shooting club
0
It seems unlikely.
A cricket team
1
Cricket was introduced to the Boys' School in 1954 when it was played at the Miners' Welfare. A Dunlop Semtex all-weather cricket pitch arrived on campus in 1966.
A sailing team
0
Not that I know of.
A lacrosse team
0
Likewise. Though I seem to remember some lacrosse kit in the Stalag.
A hockey team
1
There was certainly after-school hockey, and I'm pretty sure it was played competitively.
A fencing team
0
Flower arranging, yes. Fencing, probably not.
A boathouse
0
The Lower School pond wasn't quite big enough for a boathouse...
A resident swan
0
...or for a resident swan.
A school tie
1
Navy with purple and grey stripes. Underwent a redesign at the turn of the millennium, introducing the school crest to the mix, and is now rarely seen at all as a consequence of the polo-shirted summer uniform.
Kilts
0
Only as a fashion statement. Summer dresses (like they wear in Neighbours) were an option from the 1960s through to the 1990s, but were seldom observed. Girls' trousers were still a controversial issue well into the 1990s, but were widely observed.
School hats
0
Caps and berets were part of the Lower School uniform as set out in 1963, but the idea doesn't seem to have been taken up, and school photos show no sign of the things. So no points to be scored here.
Blazers
1
These were another element of the 1963 uniform (originally intended to be blue for Lower School and black for Upper School, though the blue blazers probably went the same way as the caps and berets). By the 1990s, girls could swap their blazers for cardigans. By the 2000s, sweatshirts had intervened for the summer months.
A debating team
0.5
There's certainly been a debating society on and off, but whether it's got competitive or not, I'm not sure.
A DofE group
0.5
Mr Coppack led the DofE scheme in the earliest days of the Comp, but I've seen no sign of it continuing without him. A generous half-point, then.
A CCF branch
0
The army were stationed in Lower School for a bit, but as far as I'm aware the cadets have never had any formal connection.

Totting that lot up gives 24/51: "fairly posh" and likely to have "double-barrelled names" on the register. If you're very generous and give a full point to my half-marks, it comes to 29, which falls in the same bracket. If you're being more cautious and choosing to take out the 0.5s as cheating, then we still score 19/51, which falls at the top end of the "not very posh" / "mostly pretty normal" range. This is still way ahead of everybody I know who shared their score. As I mentioned before, double figures were seemingly  a rarity.

So why does Dinnington do so posh? In part for the simple fact that it is an early example of comprehensive education. The West Riding Education Authority was, under its Chief Education Officer, Alec Clegg
, one of the most progressive in the country, and it was a leader in comprehensive reform. Dinnington was the first Comprehensive School in the Rother Valley area and was intended as something of a showpiece, hence the Basil Spence buildings, and the well equipped playing fields. Comprehensive quite literally implied a combination of all three streams of tripartite education: modern, technical and grammar school rolled into one. And that meant taking on certain grammar school sensibilities such as some of those encountered in the list above. That's what comprehensive education was supposed to be about: all things together. Scale is important too, here: Dinnington is a big school (2000 pupils) with a varied catchment (inevitable in the mixed-use landscape of the coal-fields, where industry, agriculture and commuter-belt suburbia combine). Later comprehensives fail by not being true comprehensives (by being, effectively, rebadged secondary moderns) be it through lack of will, lack of funds, or lack of space to make the scale up. With Dinnington there was the critical size and sufficient support from the ideologically driven authority. As a consequence, Dinnington established itself as truly comprehensive.

Some of that was lost in later years. The transfer of Dinnington from the West Riding to the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough, coincident with an economic crisis, seems to have resulted in a loss of some of that initial zeal and impetus. But Dinnington struggled on through the '70s and '80s, developing where it could. The fire was a further set-back but also an opportunity to drastically redevelop, which the school most definitely grasped. Alas, in the meantime, the comprehensive ideal has been battered by less impressive examples of the model (those schools my peers seem to have attended), and is ideologically anathema to the current government. Dinnington's decision to leave local authority control may be an attempt to regain some liberty to perpetuate the comprehensive model that has seemingly served it so well, but it might also be an attempt to disavow that status (the reversion of the name to Dinnington High School looks at first sight to indicate the latter, although the history of the name reveals complications: Clegg's comprehensive utopia of the 1960s was Dinnington High School; it was Rotherham who rebadged it as a Comprehensive). Whatever the eventual outcome, and irrespective of the merits of any educational system (this exercise is not a test of academic excellence, after all), the fact that Dinnington was a first-wave comprehensive school (with all their grammar-school importations that entails) has unquestionably helped it to be just that little bit posh.

www.hall43.co.uk