Quantock School Alumni

Skip to content

Main Menu

Quantock School History

A Downturn in Fortunes

The 1980s probably represented the halcyon days of Quantock School; in the middle of Cold War era and with the large number of forces children, the school population stood at well over 200 and was a bustling community in the middle of the Quantock Forest. However, 1989 was to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the domino-effect revolutions in Eastern Europe; this change in political atmosphere led to a change in tactics by the government, which in turn led to a reappraisal of Armed Forces policy as the strategic position in Europe and the world started to take on a new shape.

During the early 1990s, the number serving in the Armed Forces started to fall dramatically, and a number of service bases started on the process of what some could call "fine tuning". In particular, the tactical role of many overseas bases were reevaluated, which led to a number of them either thinning staff dramatically, merging roles with other bases or in some cases closing down altogether. Most affected were the bases in Germany and the mediterranean island of Cyprus. As this process started to take hold in the mid-1990s, there were obviously fewer overseas forces personnel, and Quantock School - like those other education establishments that had benefited greatly from being on the Forces' list of approved schools - started to find that what had been a constant source of pupils had started to dry up.

Slow Decline and Gradual Fall

During the early 1990s the school population slowly started to decline; the older departing pupils were not being replaced by a similar number of those starting a new school life at Quantock, and it was abundantly clear that even with the school being co-educational there would simply not be enough pupils to make the school viable. The harsh reality of the situation was to lead to Quantock School becoming open to day pupils in 1995, which finally closed the book on its thirty-two year history as a boarding school.

Given that the fee-paying boarders had always been the mainstay of the school's economy, the decline in numbers had an ripple effect across all aspects of Quantock School life. The better teachers soon left, facilities were not being maintained, and the standards in the classroom were declining - the paint was, in some cases literally, peeling from the walls. It was against this backdrop that on 11 December 1995 Quantock School then found its way onto the floor of the House of Commons, through the then Member of Parliament for Plymouth Devonport David Jamieson. It was more than likely that Jamieson's concern had come about as a result of a complaint from a parent, a number of whom being Navy personnel were resident in Jamieson's constituency - although a less than complimentary article on the school had been published on the pages of the Observer on 3 December.

The suitability of Quantock School as a MOD listed educational establishment was called into question, with Jamieson introducing the issue during a House debate on the allowance provided by the SCEA to forces personnel sending their children to boarding school. At that time according to the then Armed Forces Minister Nicholas Soames, the parents of a mere 38 pupils had been receiving this allowance. In response to Jamieson's further questions about Quantock School's place on the approved schools list, Soames provided the information that an informal visit had been paid to the school earlier that year.

On the following day, no doubt wanting to press the issue, Jamieson was informed by Cheryl Gillan, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Employment, that Quantock School had been subject to a visit by both Ofsted and representatives of Somerset County Council, and had met the minimum standards required by the Education Act of 1944. Nevertheless Jamieson continued to press, engaging in a further discussion with the Secretary of State for Defence on 18 December and in February the following year.

On February 21 1996 an assessment was carried out by two representatives of the SCEA, whose report found that the level of pastoral care and guidance was satisfactory, and that there had been no causes for concern. Jamieson was still however not convinced, making the point on 17 April 1996 that the SCEA had no rights of entry and that their report was for internal use only. This escalation of events was to culminate in the visit by representative of Ofsted to Quantock School in November 1996.

 back | next