1972 - 1996

By 1972 the political decision had finally been taken to reorganize Eltham Hill and to change it from a three-form entry grammar school to a six-form entry comprehensive, in line with the school’s own earlier proposal. The change was to begin in 1974 with the first comprehensive intake and be complete by 1978. Considerable building extensions would be necessary to allow such an expansion. The saga of the building work, begun in spring 1972 and due for completion in the autumn of 1974, was to dominate school life for several years.

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Sixth Form Group – 1974

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Miss Timberlake and the Sixth Form – 1974

The familiar appearance of the building was altered totally by the destruction of the front drive, shrubberies, tennis courts, poplar trees and the school keeper’s house and garden. Bulldozers and excavators dominated the scene. Rapidly escalating inflation and the three-day week of 1973 were only the beginning of the problem. Flooding in the boiler house indicated water troubles both present and to come. Flooding in other areas followed and it seemed that the new heavy foundations had affected an underground stream.

However the situation was stabilized and the new building reached rooftop level, ‘topped-out’ by Miss Timberlake. 1975, anticipated as being a difficult year, outdid all expectations. The whole school, except the Science department had to vacate the old part of the building and move into the new in order to allow the remaining alterations to take place. This involved packing the whole stock of the school, including the library, and housing it in temporary quarters in the new extension. The school doubled in size.

Mrs Brenda Sullivan succeeded Miss Timberlake on her retirement in 1978. She had experience of working in comprehensive schools and embarked on a review of the curriculum, introducing new courses at CSE and O Level. A pastoral curriculum was established and taught throughout the school each week.

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New Curriculum – 1980s

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cience laboratory – 1980s

However the 1980s were a period of some uncertainty for Eltham Hill. The comprehensive reorganization had an impact on the numbers staying into the Sixth Form, which led to a consortium arrangement with two nearby schools and latterly to a joint Sixth Form with Eltham Green School. Political decisions both by government and the I.L.E.A. had their effect. In 1986 the I.L.E.A. reduced the number of pupils allowed to be accepted into the first year from 180 to 150, despite the fact that the school was popular and heavily over-subscribed. Although this decision was reversed some years later, it had an adverse effect on the confidence of local families that their daughters would be offered a place. It was also made easier for parents to choose schools in other boroughs for their children and many local parents have exercised that option in sending their daughters to schools in Bexley and Bromley.

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Around 1986 – those notorious lockers!

The abolition of the I.L.E.A. in 1990 and the transfer of education to the London Borough of Greenwich, accompanied as it was by very large budget cuts, had a serious effect on staff morale.

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