Woodlands County Secondary School for Boys' and Girls' opened in September 1958. The new schools,
located in the Kingwood area of Basildon, both share a large site with entrances in Gobions (girls) and Takely End (boys).
Until May 1959 the Girls' school shared the Boys' school's accommodation and from then on operated separately of each other until merging in the
Mr. Bernard Benjamin was the first appointed Headmaster of the Boys' school. In 1962 Mr. Jack Woodward - formerly of
Laindon High Road - took charge through to 1968 when Mr. K.D. Barnes took over. Miss A.S. Brewis was Headmistress of the Girls' school.
Some form years were still partially merged as late as the term beginning September 1978 although Science, Art and languages lessons were
mixed. Mr Roden was the Boys' headteacher during these times and Miss A. Savill was in charge in the Girls department.
In the late 2000s a plan was proposed to replace the school with new buildings on the same site. Following a period of consultation, plans were drawn
up and approved on 16th December, 2011 by Essex County Council's Development and Regulation Committee. Work commenced the following year
alongside the existing school and in February 2014 the new school was opened. The old school was then demolished and the area landscaped.
Woodlands Girls' School - A brief history
The following is an extract from a course study carried out in 1966 by A. Chesterton.
Almost all of the schools within the New Town area are contemporary with the New
Town. The Girls' School was opened in Whitsun 1959, although for some eight months before that the school had been in existence and accommodated
in the Boys' School on the same site. The building is typical of school construction of this period, sharing the attractions and defects of the architecture of
the 1950's. It has a very clean and uncluttered exterior line, and has plenty of window space, although in some parts of the school this is not an unmixed
blessing on a sunny afternoon. In plan it resembles a collection of oblong boxes placed together assymetrically with the administration section and
workrooms at one end and the general purpose classrooms at the other. But the building does suffer from the economies of the period in having poor
circulation space: on the first and second floors classrooms give entry from one part of the school to another, unless either one or two flights of stairs are
gone up and then down to get from one side of the school to the other. Cloakrooms are so cramped and awkwardly sited that they present something of a
hazard and mean staff and prefects must be on duty whenever there is any general movement.
The other and main defects are not the result of government economies but of local
government short-sightedness. The school was built for 640 but now houses 100 more. It was possibly not foreseen in 1958 that the area would develop
so rapidly, nor that the school would soon take a fifth year. It was not until December 1958 that the Government asked local authorities to take steps to
bring fifth year courses into being. Although there is one room off the library at Woodlands which could be divided for private study
groups, this now has to be used as a classroom. There are no other rooms in the school which can be used for small groups and part classes, although
one alcove has been curtained off for French conversation groups; nor is there any area large enough for two or more classes except for the Assembly
Hall, and that is used for dancing, drama and similar activities that need ample floor space. This traditional type of school construction makes any attempt
at team teaching almost impossible. Within three years the school is likely to become even more obsolescent. The most recently announced plan for
Comprehensive education suggests that the Boys' and Girls' schools on the site should become mixed with an eight form entry and 1,320 on roll, and an
age range from 11 to 18 years. There will have to be some new building work to accommodate the extra age groups, and some sort of connecting way
between the two schools: the cost of these is estimated at some £67,266.
The girls are divided in the first three years by a system of coarse streaming into
three groups: two parallel A forms, two B and one C form in each year. This lower part of the school has fewer specialist subject divisions in its
timetable. There is little transfer into grammar school; in fact, there were only two in 1965. In the fourth year those that intend to leave at the statutory age
are put into two classes; in some years their placement has depended upon the term in which they leave and in others on their former stream.
The girls whose parents are agreeable to their staying on for an extra year, and who
wish to do so themselves, are put into three extended forms; the 1965 5th year leavers were 43.8% of that intake in 1960. This is rather higher than for
girls in mixed school, for over the whole of the Urban District 38.49% of the girls stayed on (and 39.8% of the boys), and the percentage is rather better than
for Woodlands Boys' School, where it was 33.83%.
(Source: Adolescent Girls in a New Town: at school work and play
Course: The theory and practice of the
Secondary School. 1964/1966 by A. Chesterton.)