Smithdon High School

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Smithdon High School
Smithdon High School is located in Norfolk
Smithdon High School
Smithdon High School
Downs Road

, ,
PE36 5HY

Coordinates52°56′11″N 0°29′49″E / 52.93626°N 0.49702°E / 52.93626; 0.49702Coordinates: 52°56′11″N 0°29′49″E / 52.93626°N 0.49702°E / 52.93626; 0.49702
TypeCommunity school
MottoStrength Integrity Excellence
Local authorityNorfolk
TrustWest Norfolk Academies Trust
HeadteacherMr S Wilson
Assistant HeadteachersMrs R Bazeley-Smith, Mrs S Robinson
Age11 to 16
Colour(s)Green, yellow, red, blue

Smithdon High School (formerly known as Hunstanton Secondary Modern School and Hunstanton School) is an non-selective (ages 11–16) academy, with 627 students in Hunstanton, Norfolk. Ofsted rated the school as good in 2014. It changed it status, joining the West Norfolk Academies Trust in 2016.

The buildings were designed by the architects Peter and Alison Smithson. They were completed in 1954, and the modernist school was immediately acclaimed by the architectural critics who coined the term New brutalism. It has stark and uncompromising design with large expanses of glass (inspired by the work of Mies van der Rohe) and exposed structural elements and services. The buildings have remained largely unchanged though some of the featured clear glass panels were replaced by black panels to overcome a solar overheating problem. They were Grade II* listed in 1993.

School history[edit]

The school was opened in 1954, one of the 2500 new secondary modern schools created for the 1944 Education Act, implemented by the post war Atlee Labour government. It was a product of extreme austerity, intended to educate the boys and girls aged 11 to 15 who had failed the 11-plus.[1] The school became non-selective following the 1965 Circular 10/65 and in 1972 the school leaving age was raised to 16. The school had a wide catchment area, which includes many small, rural villages receiving students at 11 (year 7) from primary schools and 13 (year 9) from middle schools in the Norfolk three-tier system. This reverted to two tier. After a Good Ofsted Report in 2014,[2] the school changed its status to an academy, within the West Norfolk Academy Trust Group. For a few years now the school has had specialist status in Mathematics and Computing, and is working on becoming specialist in performance arts.[citation needed]

Architectural history[edit]

Smithdon High School

Hunstanton School is an important work by the Alison and Peter Smithson. It was known locally as 'the glasshouse', the school was strikingly modern in many ways, most notably in its extensive use of glass and steel, and the unusual free-standing water tower.

The Smithsons struggled with reuniting modernist architectural style of the Festival of Britain with the community. Hunstanton School, with is exposed structure and services, with its references to Mies van der Rohe was an answer. It was described by architectural critics as New Brutalism. This was the first time this description had been used, and was then adopted to describe all buildings of this genre, and profoundly influenced school design and public buildings.[3]

The school main building, was designated a Grade II* listed building in 1993.[4] The school gymnasium was listed at Grade II* the same year.[5]


This is a two-storey, flat roofed, roughly symmetrical rectangular block with two internal courtyards and a central double-height hall spanning two main ranges. The classrooms are all on the first floor reached by individual stair columns- or columns that service at most 3 classrooms. This was done to prevent the perceived noise and disruption caused by long corridors. The classrooms were fully glazed, with obscured panels below cill height. It was built using a galvanised steel frame with buff sandlime brick infill. The steel framed windows were fitted without subframes. There were single storeyed workshops and kitchens to north. A feature is the steel framed water tower with steel tanks, built between the blocks.[4]

The extensive use of glazing was a feature, but has become an environmental problem, as it produced a cold building in winter, and effectively a greenhouse in summer.

For a few years now the school has had specialist status in Mathematics and Computing, and is working on becoming specialist in performance arts.


  1. ^ "Hunstanton School – OpenLearn – Open University". Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  2. ^ Ofsted (5 November 2010). "Smithdon School- inspection report". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Hunstanton School – Data, Photos & Plans – WikiArquitectura". WikiArquitectura. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "SMITHDON SCHOOL INCLUDING MAIN BLOCK WATER TOWER WORKSHOPS AND KITCHENS (1077909)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  5. ^ Historic England. "GYMNASIUM AT SMITHDON SCHOOL (1342261)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 March 2014.

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