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Original Hazelwick head turns 100 in school’s anniversary year

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Hazelwick School’s first headteacher will celebrate his 100th birthday while the school marks its 60th.

Philip Keyte served as head of the school in Three Bridges for 21 years and came up with its motto “effort achieves”, which is still used today.

Mr Keyte, who lives in Norwich, said he would love to be part of the school’s 60th anniversary, though the journey to Crawley may prove too taxing.

His memory is still sharp when it comes to Hazelwick’s early years.

He described how, when the school opened, it only had 100 pupils but was soon admitting 40-50 children each week.

Mixing youngsters from London with those from rural Crawley caused problems – such as convincing the city children that school was necessary.

Mr Keyte said: “A lot of the London children had very little initial interest in schooling and felt it was ‘normal’ to not attend.

“The school formed a very strong, productive relationship with the police who would find the children and return them to school.

“There was never anything ‘formal’ done – no official reprimands, they were always working to try to readjust the children to the new expectations.

“The police used to say Hazelwick was the best coffee house in town!”

Among Mr Keyte’s proudest moments was the day in 1966 when Michael Briggs became the first Hazelwick student to earn a place at Oxford.

As the years passed, he also saw 30 members of his staff go on to run their own schools.

Hazelwick itself was something special, becoming one of the first comprehensive schools in the country.

Mr Keyte said: “Being a new school, it attracted delegations from all over the world.

“That was much more unusual then but we had visits from Japan, Mongolia as well as from all over Europe.

“The Education Minister came twice to visit the school and on one occasion held a parliamentary meeting at the school.”

Mr Keyte’s dedication to teaching earned him the CBE in 1973 for services to education.

He retired in 1975, aged 61.

 

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