Mr William Rennie Hey

Last updated: 25 May 09



1928 photo

Educated at the Rydal School, Colwyn Bay, and St John’s College, Cambridge. He obtained Class I in Part II of the Historical Tripos. He taught at Bournemouth School (Jan-Mar 1926) and Kingston Grammar School (May-July 1926). He was a fine cricketer, playing for Nelson in the Lancashire League. Mr Hey left to take up a post at Retford Grammar School. Replaced by Mr J F Ede.

Letter from Mr Hey in 1977 to John Clifford:

Alan Turner wrote to me recently and mentioned that you were interested in “what life was really like in a school such as WBHS in the early days”. I don’t know whether I can help you as I was only there for three years as History Master from 1926-29. My recollection is that we benefited much by its being a small school in which you could know every boy individually, the pupils largely picked for ability with some fee-payers, and in which we were building up from the start a new tradition.

The headmaster, C S Kipping, was a man of outstanding ability, eccentric in some ways, kindly beneath a sometimes forbidding exterior and a firm disciplinarian without harshness. I remember that of the first batch of boys he put in for the School Certificate in Chemistry, ten out of fifteen gained distinction. A queer thing I heard him say once was, “There’s something wrong with this kind of education” (ie grammar school). I suppose he meant that it was only really designed for the ‘elite’ (a bad word these days!).

On the other hand I remember one boy who seemed a hopeless duffer (a fee-payer), but who now is doing well as a social worker. I fancy many who seemed academic failures got quite a lot out of it in other ways.

We had enthusiastic ‘out of school’ activities: cricket, football, tennis, juggling, chess, debating. Quite a number of parents invited me to their home, and no doubt good parental support meant a lot.

Contrasting with the present day it must be remembered that we were largely dealing with the top 15% or so, whereas a modern comprehensive has all the children, good, bad, and indifferent, often in large, unwieldly organisations. In Manchester, where I spent my later days as an administrator, we tried to minimise this problem by dividing comprehensive into lower and upper schools under separate heads.

I recognise the modern passion for equality, but such are the wide differences in human ability that I still think there is much to be said for smaller schools, specialising in different ways.

If you want to ask me any questions, please write, though after nearly ten years of retirement, I probably am out of touch.