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News > School Events > Afternoon Tea to celebrate KD Smith's 90th Birthday

Afternoon Tea to celebrate KD Smith's 90th Birthday

On Friday we welcomed former Headmaster KD Smith back to school to celebrate his 90th Birthday. Former colleagues, students, governors and parents returned to celebrate with Keith.
17 Jul 2019
Written by Alison Cox
School Events
KD with his daughter, Sheila
KD with his daughter, Sheila
On Friday we welcomed former Headmaster KD Smith and his family back to school to celebrate his 90th Birthday. Former colleagues, students, governors and parents also returned to pay their respects and celebrate with Keith. KD was Headmaster here at Aylesbury Grammar School from 1967 - 1992. It’s difficult to condense in just a few words the impact KD had on our School and indeed education generally over the years, but perhaps the best way to do this is to take some words written by colleagues and friends who knew him well.

Firstly, from our Commemorative Book (1958-1998) written by the late Professor William Mead  and secondly, words from an extract from the 1993 Aylesburian publication written by Ian Roe (Headmaster 1992 - 1998).

There a section in our book, that talks about KDs arrival at the School in 1967. It’s aptly entitled ‘A Time of Fulfilment’ 

“Keith Smith took over from Lionel Tidmarsh at a strategic time the spring term in 1967.  He came from a deputy headship at Theale Grammar School in Berkshire.  He was the first head not to occupy the headmaster’s house.  The Foundation Governors were of the opinion that it was not a suitable residence but, that will limited alternations, it could provide satisfactory accommodation for sixth form teaching.  In fact, the new Headmaster entered the school at what was relatively speaking not an inauspicious time financially for the school Foundation.   Cash funds had been accumulating and the Chairman of Governors (27/11/1967) proposed that a number of worthwhile projects might be supported.  It did not take K.D. Smith long to produce a list, together with estimated costs.

Principal among the items were squash courts (four were completed in 1968 with a common spectators’ gallery), a standard indoor rifle range (completed in 1969), funds for the school library, a minibus and a grant for the sixth form house.  The County Council agreed to cover the costs of maintaining and running the minibus, plus licensing and insurance costs,  Inevitably, the capital outlay exceeded the estimates, but, nothing daunted, the list was soon extended in order to double the provisions in the audio-active room and – unsuccessfully – to equip a room for pottery and sculpture. 

Although K.D Smith found a relatively strong Foundation, the finances available from the County Council were seriously inadequate.  His first task was to persuade the Education Officers that extra money should be made available for equipment and books for the new Nuffield Science courses in Physics, chemistry and biology that had been introduced throughout the school.  Within a week of appointment, he also persuaded the Chief Education Officer, Roy Harding, to provide a minor works project to create four housemaster rooms.  This was the first necessary step in changing the bias of pastoral care in the school from a form master system to one based on the house organisation.

Beyond the school, KD was responsible for the establishment of Aylesbury Youth Action, of which he was to remain chairman into his retirement.

In 1992, Keith Smith retired, leaving the school at the height of its achievements, His talents and energy were immediately sought by a number of national institutions.  For his contributions to the school, the town, the county and indeed the nation at large, he was awarded the OBE in 1993”
We pick up now, with Ian Roe’s editorial piece in the 1993 Aylesburian Magazine celebrating KD's time at the School

“We were all delighted to hear the news of Keith Smith’s OBE in the New Year’s Honours List.  This was just recognition for a lifetime of service not only to Aylesbury Grammar School but to Education in general.
Keith became a personality of some standing at national level for all his work for the Secondary Heads Association, for the C.C.P.R and the Sports Council.  He holds passionate views about the importance of sport in the physical and personal development of young people and has fought vigorously for an increase of resources to schools.  He has taken a leading part on the SHA International Committee and has made visits to China, German, Denmark, America and Holland.  He has always been keen to bring back new ideas to this country and to help pupils in poorer nations where he could see there was a need.  I can remember seeing the floor of his study covered with books that he had bought in a sale out of proceeds of a special charity collection and which he was planning to send to Chinese students whom he had seen struggling to study English Literature with the most meagre ration of books.

On a County level Keith was a stalwart in representing teachers’ views on the Educatoin Committee and being the County Convener for Secondary Heads.  He was at the forefront of the battle to retain Grammar Schools through the 1970s, and at a time when the will of local politicians was beginning to waver he provided the leadership that was needed for all those willing to fight the cause.
However, it is AGS itself which owes the greatest debt of gratitude to Keith.  He fought for high standards whilst at the same time encouraging the most modern approaches to teaching.  He stood strongly and firmly for his own beliefs and yet showed his caring side in his help for individual pupils, his support for community service and his encouragement to us all to develop our social conscience.  On account of all this work Keith was elected a member of the Headmasters’ Conference – a distinction given to very few Heads of state schools.

I am sure that the world of Education will still benefit from Keith’s work and interest.  He was too involved to want to switch off completely.  He will be able to enjoy longer visits to the Lakes to run up Helvelyn and walk round his beloved Buttermere.  He will be pleased to have more time to devote to his family.  We all thank him for his lifetime of service and wish him every happiness and good health in the future.”

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