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Decades of Co-education

1982 Oxbridge candidates

In September 1980, after 493 years of the education of boys, 66 girls joined 83 boys as the new intake at 11 while 22 girls entered the Sixth Form and 25 girls joined the Junior School at age seven-plus. Over the following few years, Stockport Grammar School underwent a process of transition that would see it successfully become a fully co-educational school.

To mark the 30 year anniversary of this momentous change in 2010, Carol Condliffe, Stuart Helm and Rachel Horsford contacted pupils who were at Stockport Grammar School at the time to ask for their recollections of school life and the paths that they took subsequently.

We would like to thank everyone who has replied, it has been a great pleasure to hear from you.

Andy Gregg (OS 1988)

Schoolwork and education are different. Schoolwork was just something I did to pass exams to move to the next level. An education was something that Stockport Grammar offered me in so many more ways with all the extracurricular activities.

That is where the success lay for me and I hope it continues at Stockport Grammar School. It is this intangible contribution that the teachers added to the education that should be recognised, rewarded and maintained.

Since leaving school in 1988, I went to medical school in Southampton. I am now a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine. I also spend a significant amount of time teaching trainee anaesthetists.

I hope I have learned from my time at Stockport Grammar School that there are two components to teaching. The first is to inspire trainees to study and pass the post graduate exams, but the more important is to enthuse them with the broader picture of how to do the job, be successful and enjoy life.

I thank Stockport Grammar School for everything it offered me in my early years and wish everybody the very best for the future education of tomorrow’s adults.

Belinda Hill (née Bell) (OS 1985)

After leaving Stockport Grammar School and studying at York St John University, Belinda moved to San Diego, California, where she now lives with her husband and two children, working as an occupational therapist.

1S, 1980 - 1981

Pauline Lai (OS 1987)

The seven years I spent at Stockport Grammar School really were the happiest and most carefree of my life so far. I truly do not think that youngsters realise this until they move on and have to brave the harsh realities of the world after Stockport Grammar School.

I went to the University of St Andrews School of Medicine straight after Stockport Grammar School. The transition was smooth and I felt, academically, Stockport Grammar School more than adequately prepared me for medical school.

New entrants to the Sixth Form, 1982 - 1983

Tim Hughes and Tim Stretton (both OS 1982)

Classmates Tim Hughes and Tim Stretton have remained friends since they left Stockport Grammar School in 1982, and the tradition has continued with both of their daughters in the same form in their first year at Stockport Grammar School.

Tim Stretton is married to Johannah Stretton (née Heyward) who was in the first intake of girls to the sixth form.

Hannah Worthington (OS 2006)

I thoroughly enjoyed sport, and the opportunities which were handed to me throughout my school life were second to none. The main reason I wanted to attend Stockport Grammar School was for the sporting opportunities and I cannot say more than that Stockport Grammar School outdid any expectations and provided me with a brilliant platform for sporting success.

The individual care and attention I received at Stockport Grammar School made it the fantastic experience that it was.

One Old Stopfordian remembers her first day at Stockport Grammar School as one of the first girls. The debate surrounding how the girls should be addressed was a tricky one, given that the boys were all known by their surnames. It was eventually decided to address each pupil by their first name.

John Williams (OS 1987)

Upon leaving Stockport Grammar School, John studied visual arts at Lancaster University. After trying his hand as a freelance designer, he moved to work for the family business, where he is now managing director.

John completed an MBA at Manchester Business School, and spent six months in Los Angeles. He has also been chairman of Tameside Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Manchester chamber, and been a member on a panel advising the government on budget formation.

Anthony Chalmers (OS 1986)

When I started as a first year in 1979 it was a rather forbidding, old fashioned and intimidating place. The introduction of girls and the new site made it much more open and relaxed – people started using their first names! My best memories are of music -choirs, wind band, and theatre.

I went to the University of Oxford Medical School. Stockport Grammar School provided the academic background but more importantly helped me to be a rounded person with lots of interests. I still play the piano and perform in musical theatre.

I’m now in Lewes, East Sussex with my partner Michael. But I’ve recently been appointed professor of clinical oncology at the University of Glasgow so we’ll be moving there in September.

Hockey squad, 1981 - 1982

Marie Calnan (OS 1983)

I remember walking up the stairs to assembly and it being dark, surrounded by tall boys wearing black blazers.

Caroline Pearce (née Wiltshire) (OS 1985)

Caroline remembers playing in the wind band, especially the open air concerts in the quad. She has continued her passion for music, and following a piano teaching diploma, she teaches piano and percussion in south-east London.

Looking back, it is all the interpersonal skills that I acquired at Stockport Grammar School that have helped me most. Those, along with an ability to work hard and be self disciplined, and aim high, have remained with me throughout.

Ian Hall (OS 1983)

Ian is now a Stockport Grammar School parent. His son is currently in the second year of the senior school.

Ian is a self employed developer, with the Altrincham branch of Waitrose a recent addition to his portfolio. Ian has recently spent three months in Australia.

First path to the recently acquired former convent site

Paul Phoenix (OS 1985)

I spent five really happy years at Stockport Grammar School from 1980 to 1985, having previously been a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral. I forged some very strong friendships which I cherish to this day.

I now live just west of Cambridge and am happily married with two sons. For nearly 13 years I have been the tenor in the King’s Singers. After Stockport Grammar School I took a year out and worked as a junior master at Terra Nova School in Cheshire. I then spent five quite tough years at the Royal Northern College of Music studying singing.

Stockport Grammar School gave me the communication skills and tenacity needed to survive in the music business.

Sandra Royden (née Hancock) (OS 1987)

After Stockport Grammar School Sandra studied pharmacy at the University of Nottingham, and has remained in the pharmaceutical industry since:

School gave me a great academic grounding and a very positive work ethic.

Niall Bisset (OS 1988)

Niall left Stockport Grammar School in 1988. Following a year travelling, he studied psychology at Swansea University. He now lives in Vancouver with his family, where he has started a recycling company.

whilst at Stockport Grammar School Niall was a keen musician and fondly remembers the USA band tour in 1983. It was then his passion for travelling began.

I fully appreciate how lucky I was to go to Stockport Grammar School and how excellent the school was and is: great teachers and facilities, and all sorts of opportunities, and fortunately I was also lucky to be the first year with girls.

Without a doubt my experiences at Stockport Grammar School gave me the self confidence to emigrate and build a great life in a different country.

Wendy March (née Tomlinson) (OS 1982)

Wendy was amongst the first cohort of girls to enter the sixth form in 1980. After studying French and management studies at the University of Leeds, Wendy trained in retail management for six years.

However she decided to return to the classroom to teach French – a subject she was passionate about at Stockport Grammar School. Wendy is now assistant head at Congleton High School.

Netball leavers, 1987

Punk Takiar (OS 1984)

Punk remembers the sudden change in behaviour by the boys on the arrival of girls at Stockport Grammar School. Punk’s two sons now attend Stockport Grammar School.

Sarah Barker (née Vernon) (OS 1990)

The most important memory of all for me is that I am fortunate to be able to say I had the most fantastic schooling anybody could wish for. Stockport Grammar School was a very happy time for me and I have very fond memories of my time there.

I think a happy time at school counts for so much and I hope my children can grow up and feel the same way about their school and education.

Immediately after leaving Stockport Grammar School Sarah spent a year in Germany. She then went on to study languages at university, and spent a year in France as part of her degree.

Stockport Grammar School gave me the confidence to follow my dreams and to fulfil my ambitions.

New entrants to the Sixth Form, 1980 - 1981

Helen Fletcher (OS 1989)

Helen has fond memories of the trips at Stockport Grammar School, in particular the trip to the Dolomites, and the sixth form Biology trip to Anglesey with Dr Metivier.

She now lives with her family in the Vale of Glamorgan, and works for the Countryside Council in Wales.

Anna Lee (OS 1995)

Anna is now enjoying motherhood following the birth of her first child Frank in January 2010.

I have always been grateful for a very well rounded education at Stockport Grammar School.

Christine Yuill (OS 1989)

Christine left Stockport Grammar in 1989. She went to Nottingham Trent University where she studied European business with French, followed by a master’s degree in international business.

Christine worked in Cologne for five years, before starting medical studies, which she has recently completed.

John Condliffe (OS 1990)

I have lots of great memories of Stockport Grammar School, from playing lots of football and cricket in junior school, several summer trips to Wasdale, playing in numerous wind and jazz bands, and music trips to the US. I could go on!

John left Stockport Grammar School and studied engineering science at Pembroke College, Oxford, followed by a two year course at the London College of Law.

He now lives in London with his family, and is a partner at Hogan Lovells law firm.

Beatrix Milburn (née Wood) (OS 1983)

After Stockport Grammar School, Beatrix graduated from film school, and has since written and produced a variety of award winning documentary and feature films throughout Europe.

Stockport Grammar School helped me to prepare for how to deal with being an independently minded person in a conformist world.

Danny Adamson (OS 1988)

Stockport Grammar School is a fabulous school. It provided me with a tremendous education and perhaps more importantly it channelled my energies into study and sport.

As for rugby, Stockport Grammar School had it all – a great pool of players, great coaches and excellent facilities. The quincentenary tour of 1987 was remarkable – a five-week tour playing the Maoris, seeing New Zealand, Australia and America, was quite something for a 17-year-old.

Phil Boyd (OS 1981)

Phil was amongst the final year of all boys to pass through the sixth form. Although the integration of girls was not quite complete for this year group, Phil does speculate that the prefect room may have enjoyed some positive changes upon the arrival of girls!

Oxbridge entrants, 1988

Simon Rees (OS 2002)

Simon recalls his days in the art department:

It was a fabulous group and we had such a wealth of different talents and personalities. Our lessons were mature but informal, and being a relatively small group we had an understanding of one another’s work that allowed us to help and advise each other.

Kate Hamilton Ryan (OS 1988)

Kate has many fond memories of her time at Stockport Grammar School – the school trips, including to Salcombe and Russia, the Derbyshire walks, and tall ship sailing, the filming of Mastermind in the school hall, and Princess Margaret’s visit.

Kate went on to study biochemistry at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and then the CPE law conversion at Manchester. She is now a partner at Pannone Solicitors and lives with her family in Alderley Edge.

I am extremely proud to have been at Stockport Grammar School.

Ginny McDermott (née Burke) (OS 1982)

I don’t know how different my life would have been if I’d had the chance to attend Stockport Grammar School from age 11, but it certainly changed my outlook on life in the two years that I was able to attend.

I certainly expected more from myself and more from life, and Stockport Grammar School gave me the confidence to tread my own path whatever life threw at me.

Paddy Chester (OS 1985)

Paddy remembers the school for its sporting success, with particular note to Mr Shackleton’s lacrosse team – “the most successful in history!”

Paddy has just moved to southern California to work at San Diego State University as head coach for lacrosse.