• Short Summary

    A progressive school in Hertfordshire is featured - pupils smoke and listen to jazz in the classroom.

  • Description

    "Beat School" story - Burgess Hill School in Hertfordshire.

    Two versions of story exist - print version and neg version - almost exactly the same. See note at end of description.

    Narrator states: "England has long been famous for its educational establishments, the freedom of choice of schools and for their political and social toleration. But here's a boarding school where youth is not merely allowed but encouraged to have its fling." Shots of children arriving at school. Some arrive on their own motorbikes, others jump out of a van. The kids wear casual clothes - jeans and leather jackets. A couple of the boys are "rockers" with quiffs and sunglasses, some might be called "beatniks". They go into the school building - this is the progressive Burgess Hill School in Hertfordshire.

    M/S of teacher sitting at a blackboard with two children beside him drawing on the board. C/U of the teacher and the children. L/S of classroom which has large colourful mural. This is an art class. high angle of girl doing a painting - modern art. "This sort of painting may be a little strange but at least she is having fun." An older girl paints. The narrator states that it isn't surprising that the children enjoy art as most come from artistic homes. M/S of pupils working at a circular table. Colourful mural behind them has the names of writers painted upon it (Chaucer, Wilde, Eliot etc.) A dog sits on one of the chairs. C/U of girl in sunglasses taking a cigarette out of her pencil case. One of the rockers lights it up for her. She hands it to the boy sitting next to her who takes a drag. "...besides... smoking calms the nerves."

    M/S of another classroom. Headmaster Jimmy (James) East is playing some groovy music on the record player. He has a cat sitting on his desk. The children sit around in his class on the floor. Jimmy changes the record from jazz to Elgar and hands the children sheet music to follow. C/U of young boy lying down listening to the music.

    Table manners are discussed over shots of pupils having their dinner. It is very relaxed, some don't even sit at tables, a girl eats a piece of chicken with her hands. The rock chick gives the dog a piece of food. The grounds of the school are shown. "Here without danger or worry to anyone the youngsters run and play." Various shots of the children playing on ropes - hanging from a very high rope and swinging from tree to tree. Youngish boy walks along smoking a cigarette and playing a harmonica.

    Drama lessons are very popular at the school as self expression is paramount. M/S of three pupils performing in a play using "method acting". One of the rockers holds a pistol in his hand. He pretends to be shot and lights a cigarette with shaking hands. Boys riding motorcycles move into shot.

    "Teenagers... must dance" L/S of the kids "dressed in beat uniform" dancing to the twist - Chubby Checker. Skirts swirl to reveal stockings and suspenders. A few boys ride their bikes around the room through the dancers. Narrator states that when asked about their schooling one of the pupils says that "we learn no more than we would at an ordinary school. But there are compensations, like being happy." The narrator ends with the wry comment: "Like being happy? Well we wonder."

    Note: fab film about a fab school - wish I'd gone there!
    Neg has some different shots to print - Julian cut in some out-take scenes to neg for purposes of making it suitable for cinema screening as part of the MGM Cinema Classics season. Neg is better than print. Magazine story which inspired item available with paperwork.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Unissued / unused
    British Pathé
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Time in/Out:
    01:00:04:00 / 01:04:46:00
    CP 365

Comments (1)

  1. Unknown user says

    My brother, Francis, went to Burgess School, and it is brilliant to see him in the film, aged 11 years. I asked him what he thought of the school, and he said he loved it there. Francis is dyslexic and went to school at a time when virtually no one understood dyslexia. When Burgess School closed he had to go to an 'ordinary' school and hated it because the teachers treated him like he was stupid. I think Burgess Hill gave him a lot of confidence, and he has gone on to do well in life. I am younger than my brother and only went to Burgess Hill during the holidays, as my father did maintenance work there. I absolutely loved the house and grounds, and really liked the teachers and children that I met. Many of the pupils that went to Burgess Hill are still friends, which says a lot about the whole experience. The smoking aspect might put people off in the film, but no-one then really knew how dangerous it was then (except the tobacco companies, who were keeping stum).

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