It was a bold decision in 1946 which led to the opening in Bolton, nine years later, of Great Lever or 'Hayward' Grammar School. What began in the mind of a Chief Education Officer as a clear bright hope that a new age had dawned - an age of equal opportunity and careers wide open to talent - was to inspire good will, enthusiasm, energy and responsiveness to the greater world among an idealistic staff and ambitious pupils drawn together, from 1955, in a great adventure. The tale of the school's first ten years is told here through the mini-biographies of those who taught and studied at the school. It is a story of aspiration in the face of delay, of shortages overcome and, overwhelmingly, of achievement. Yet the story is also one of an experiment halted in its track, of endeavour turning within ten years to doubt, as Circular 10/65 and the widespread move to comprehensive education began an era of further radical change in the structure, curriculum and assessment systems of state secondary schools. What was state education for, and what, in particular, were state grammar schools for? These were the new and urgent questions.
They have still not been satisfactorily answered, the well-meant twists and turns of many a government since 1965 notwithstanding. Real lives are celebrated here for their exertions and their triumphs, individual characters are recalled, and wherever possible the stories are brought right up to date. Expeditions, sporting excellence, serious debate, charitable work, society meetings and dramatic and musical performance were allied to academic achievement as a new way of life, an assertion of active belonging and a means of personal development. The lifelong effects of the Hayward experience can now be fairly assessed and positive social mobility has been an undoubted and valuable consequence for many. The pupils, and the staff, of the post-1944 Act generation have certainly gained from the experiment and contributed much that is of benefit both t