NEWS AND REFLECTIONS - KENNETH BARNES  1977

 Wennington's buildings were re-opened in January 1976 as "Ingmanthorpe Hall School", largely for boys who have been in trouble and sent by local authorities. Its fees are very high, but it's Directors must have raised a large sum of money from shareholders, for the buildings have been given an extensive face-lift - all the material developments we used to long for but could not afford. So the school's amenities have been much increased and are being well used.

 Sad news to report is the death at 85 of John Macmurray, who was closely associated with Frances and myself in founding Wennington in 1940. It was his philosophy, known to millions in the thirties through his broadcasts and books that we set out to put into practice. He became Chairman of the Governors and remained so until 1967, when Peter Hamilton took over from him (having first become interested in the school by producing for the BBC an excellent TV documentary about it.) John Macmurray had held several professorships of Philosophy and was Professor Emeritus of Edinburgh at the time. of his death. His visits to the school were always great occasions, for he brought us a marvellous stimulus of spirit and a vision of what we could do, for unlike many philosophers he was thoroughly practical, combining always theory with practice, thinking with action.

 Creative Society Schools Ltd., the trust responsible for Wennington's finances, remains for the time being in existence, and its decisions have to be approved by the Charity Commission. The remaining funds, about £20,000, cannot be used for any purpose other than maintaining a school. Some of us have until recently retained a hope for a resurrection of Wennington, but this money wouldn't buy more than a dwelling-house today. Nothing less than £ 150,000 would enable us to open a school under present conditions. It is true that the school began in 1940 with practically nothing except faith; but this was owing to two unique conditions produced by war. A fully equipped guest house, Wennington Hall, could not continue as such and was offered us at a peppercorn rent, £ 1 per annum, and for staff we could begin with several Quaker conscientious objectors who had lost their jobs and were eager to work for little more than their keep. Only another national disaster would produce such favourable conditions again!

 Our responsibility to the Charity Commission required that we should put the money to obviously good use. They had already required that the money remaining in the Bursary Fund - £4000 - should be transferred to the Friends' School, Great Ayton, where Fred Sessa is now Head, because that school is geographically and educationally close to Wennington. It becomes the nucleus of a fund to help non-Friend children to go to that school' and the Wennington directors have nominated two trustees. It was further suggested that all or part of the remaining funds should be used to augment this new bursary fund or to help Great Ayton to improve its amenities. It has been decided, at the annual general meeting of C.S.S. Ltd., that a further £ I 0,000 should go into the bursary fund and £4,000 should be used to complete the construction of the school's new studio theatre. The remaining £6,000 is being kept in hand to meet any possible calls, including the guarantee that might be necessary to ensure that my history of Wennington is published when it has been shortened to a tolerable length.

 Fred Sessa is delighted that the bridge between Wennington and Great Ayton is being reinforced materially in this way. He found something unique in the quality of relationships at Wennington that had survived the severe crises through which it had passed and he took the awareness of this into his new headship. He wants it to be known that Great Ayton will in future provide a place and a welcome for the annual reunion of the Wennington Association.

 What is there left for the Wennington Association to be and to do if no material re-growth is possible? The quality of relationships, referred to above, is still alive; I have myself seen, and have been told by others, that men and women who were educated at Wennington show a concern for other people and a perception of their needs; they tend to create a sense of community where they work and live. To help each other to maintain this, they should meet from time to time to share experience and encouragement. Many are teachers and we can be sure that though most teach under conditions different from Wennington they are trying to re-create within the national,system the qualities they valued in their own education. We must keep in touch about this.

 That foremost of scientific institutions, the Royal Society, when first founded in the seventeenth century, had no place of its own in which to meet; so it was called the Invisible College. Let us be the Invisible School, not looking backward with an old school tie, not nostalgic, not sentimental, but looking forward to opportunities or surprises that the future may bring.

 Readers may be interested to know about two books I have recently published: (a) A Vast Bundle of Opportunities (Allen & Unwin £4.25) This contains an account of the philosophy of John Macmurray and of the school. (b) Has Science Exploded God?(Denholm Press £1.65) I'm very pleased with the publishers' production of this, and it is illustrated with several of my own drawings and colour photographs.

 Eleanor and I are in frequent touch with several former Wennington scholars and staff. The warmth of affection we feel from them and for them means very much to us. But there are so many others we want to see, or at least to hear from. Please, PLEASE, keep us or the secretary informed of your movements, your marriages, your jobs, your children, and give information of any others you know in case they have not themselves informed us.

 With this hope of knowing much more about you we offer our very best wishes.

 Kenneth Barnes

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