Headteacher’s News – 2018 04 20

Peter Blake OBE, former headmaster of TWBS, passed away last week at the age of 81.  He dedicated his whole working life to The Windsor Boys’ School, rising to become head for the last 19 years of his successful  career. Peter Blake was the most significant headteacher in the school’s 110 year history, and gave so much to shape the lives of generations of young men in Windsor over four decades.   He had strong values, believed in education for all and was very deliberate in the decisions that helped grow the school.  His influence is still everywhere in the fabric, the ethos and the traditions of the school.  He shaped the school that we know now and I, as the current headteacher of TWBS,  feel privileged to be standing on the shoulders of a giant.  He will be mourned, missed and remembered by thousands of people in Windsor (and beyond) and all of our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Peter Rawling, former deputy head and close friend of Peter Blake, has written this summary of his teaching career:

A Bristolian born, bred and educated, Peter Blake travelled down the A4 corridor (there were no motorways then!) to join Windsor Grammar School as a raw recruit to the teaching profession in 1959. Having started as a classics master, he became a Head of Department, Assistant Housemaster of Allen, Senior Housemaster of Lambdin and then Deputy Head. With this he was imbued with the traditions of the school.

He embodied the spirit of the Uno Animo motto, seeing the school as a community in which all, staff and students alike, worked together to achieve success. This embraced sport as well as an academic record that saw the school regularly performing at the top of the Berkshire league tables. That this record continued when the school became fully comprehensive is a tribute both to him and to the staff, whose support he not only commanded but also generated.

Whilst Deputy Head he had spent a term away to write a dissertation on the impending comprehensivisation of education, its advantages and how to implement it. At a time when many were sceptical about such change and some sure that it would sound the death-knell of the school’s success, he saw it as an opportunity for the full ability range to benefit from what the school had to offer. One fondly remembers the letters that were received when soccer posts first went up on what was regarded as sacred rugby turf. Did they signal, as one letter suggested, that the newly-named Windsor Boys’ School was “going to the dogs”? In fact the school’s success never faltered.  On the contrary, as our numbers grew, what had been strong on a county basis became strong on a national one. The Windsor Boys’ School not only maintained its reputation from its time as a grammar school, it actually enhanced it.

Achievement for all and by all was realised in results both at 16 and 18. A-level results, far from collapsing, actually went from strength to strength and many, who in earlier times would never have stayed on beyond compulsory school age, now not only did so but went on to university as well. Peter never pandered of the latest fads and mad proposals that were sketched on the back of government envelopes. He allowed others to jump on bandwagons and travel up educational cul-de-sacs. His own motto of “festina lente” (“hasten slowly” for those who didn’t take Latin!) saw off many a pointless initiative without the damage they caused elsewhere. It was no surprise that the very first OFSTED report the school received talked of “decisive leadership and the highest professional standards”.

Such acumen saw Peter elected as Chair of the Berkshire Association of Secondary Heads (BASH!) and appointed to the National Executive of the Secondary Heads Association. When he retired in 1997 he was rightly awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his services to education. The physical expression of those services to our school lie in part in so many of the buildings and facilities the school gained in his time as Head but the greater expression is in the hearts, minds and character of literally thousands of students who will be forever grateful for what the school meant to them and gave them during those all-important years.

Gavin Henderson