Memories of Gosford Hill School strike

After reading Henry Brougham’s article in the April edition of Kidlington News about the Gosford Hill School strike of March 1960, local resident John Chipperfield kindly sent us cuttings of two photographs and articles he included in the ‘Memory Lane’ section of the Oxford Mail in October 2004. The text of the first article is reproduced below.

MEET the unlikeliest bunch of strike leaders.
These are the girls who led a walkout by pupils at Gosford Hill Secondary School, Kidlington, March, 1960. The strike was called after pupils were told that they would have to leave and take their General Certificate of Education (GCE) exams at Northfield School, Littlemore. Oxfordshire Education Committee had agreed to start GCE courses at Gosford later that year, but changed its mind because of a shortage of teachers.
Pupils were outraged at the committee’s U-turn. Head girl Dorothy Phipps and her seven prefects walked out after morning assembly. A group of boys joined them later in the day – but decided to have their school dinners first!

Dorothy, of The Moors, Kidlington, accused the committee of being “disgustingly deceitful”. She said: “Many of us have already bought new uniforms thinking we were staying at Gosford. We believe the staff are sympathetic and would be willing to take these courses. We believe the necessary books have been bought.”

Seventeen pupils joined the strike and set up strike headquarters at 47 Cherwell Avenue, Kidlington, where one of them lived.

North Oxfordshire Tory MP Neil Marten at first praised the strikers, describing Dorothy as “Miss Fidel Castro” and urging her and her colleagues to “keep on with your rebel tactics”. But the next day his support for them seemed to waver. He said he was now keeping an open mind on the issue, after realising that his earlier comments had caused some “misunderstanding”.

Having made their point, the strikers went back to the school the following week. Victory came – but too late for them – in 1962 when Gosford Hill finally got their GCE courses the pupils had fought for. Where are the strikers now?

John Chipperfield