Martin Buck - Headmaster 1994-99
by Alex Bateman
The first half of 1994 saw the headship of Gayton High in the temporary hands of Mike Chapman, the Deputy Head who had assumed control after the retirement of Chris Connop. The new Autumn term of 1994 saw a new permanent headmaster in Martin Buck, who was brought in to turn around what had become by then, a failing school. Numbers had fallen, the buildings were run down, and it was generally agreed that the School had 'lost its way'.
Martin had a proven record in turning round such situations and he set about the task immediately. He had been teaching in London since the mid-1970s, rising to Deputy Head, and was also an Ofsted Inspector. Upon joining the School, he set about five main goals. The first was to increase the intake of pupils into the School, followed by an improvement in the exam performance attained. He planned to upgrade the quality of the School buildings and facilities, while also increasing the range of extra-curricular activities available. Lastly, he intended to work closely with the PTA and Old Gaytonians to raise funds for the School.
It came as quite a shock and disappointment to many Old Boys of the School then, when it was announced that the annual Remembrance Day Service (held since 1919) was to be abolished, as was the Cadet Force. This last point was particularly puzzling as it was one of the few out of school activities left, and being voluntary, was at its healthiest for some 20 years.
By the end of the 1990s however, the School was back on the up, and thriving in many areas. A new 'expressive arts' building was being built, and a new wing under construction, together costing some £6.7M. With the introduction of 'the fairer sex' the numbers had begun to rise once more, and the future looked a lot brighter.
Martin had the unique distinction of being the headmaster through two incarnations of the School, seeing in the new Harrow High, which was born in September 1998.
At the time of the changeover, a government report described the School as 'one of the most improved in the country'. With the task required coming to fruition, Martin decided after five and a half years to head for pastures new. Although not all of his decisions were met with enthusiasm, he must be credited with bringing new life and hope to a School on a downward journey. To the delight of many, the November 1999 Remembrance Service was reinstated, re-forging a link with the original School.
Martin left Harrow High in December 1999 for a community college in East London.
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