Hackney Downs School

Hackney Downs School, was a comprehensive secondary school, located near Hackney Downs in the London Borough of Hackney.


The south side of Hackney Downs in London was once the site of the ill-fated Hackney Downs School, controversially described in the 1990s as the 'worst school in Britain'. The school started out in 1876 as the Worshipful Company of Grocers Hackney Downs Boys' School, later shortened to plain Hackney Downs, though it remained a boys-only school. As a grammar school, it won an excellent reputation, with alumni including Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, fellow playwright and actor Steven Berkoff and 60s tycoon John Bloom

In 1974, it became a comprehensive school, and inherited more than its share of the problems of this deprived inner-city borough. Just before its closure, over 70 percent of the boys spoke English as a second language, half came from households with no-one in employment, and half the intake had reading ages three years below average. Things came to a head in the 1990s, when the school made national news by being described by the then Conservative government as the 'worst school in Britain'. Eventually, as a result of direct government pressure, the school was forced to close in 1995.

The decision remains controversial to this day, opponents of the closure pointing out that Hackney Downs was singled out for special treatment by the government (presumably "pour encourager les autres") and that its academic results were not significantly worse than many other inner-city comprehensives, especially considering the problems it had inherited, including the steady 'decanting' of problem pupils—who had frequently been expelled from their original schools—to Hackney Downs. Ironically, this process may have started because of the school's "good" reputation.

The site of the old school is now occupied by Mossbourne Community Academy, founded by Sir Clive Bourne, which opened in 2004.

While the school buildings of both the original Grocers Company School and Hackney Downs School have been replaced by the new Mossbourne Academy, the old boys live on regardless through an alumni known as "The Clove Club". The Club meets regularly, has its own web site and a very active email group hosted by Yahoo.

Notable alumni

*Steven Berkoff, actor, playwright, director
*John Bloom, 60s tycoon
*Eric Bristow, World Champion Darts Player
*Michael Caine (Sir Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, Jr.), actor (attended in 1944-1945, when he was evacuated to King's Lynn during World War II)
*Cyril Domb, physicist
*Maurice Peston, Baron Peston of Mile End, English economist
*Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel laureate
*Norman Rose, Biographer of Winston Churchill
*Lt.Col. Roberts, Editor of "The Wipers Times"
*Jerry Pam, Hollywood Agent and Member of the "Oscar" Finance Committee


* [http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0304707104 The School That Dared to Fight] An account of the struggle to keep Hackney Downs School open.

External links

* [http://www.cloveclub.com/ The Clove Club]

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