Bryan Short - recollections

We have received many tributes for, and recollections of, Bryan Short from Old Bordenians and ex-staff. We are pleased to be able to share these below and will also publish any further material we receive.

 

Very sad to hear of Bryan’s passing.  To your collection of memories, I can add an illustration of how much he cared for and was interested in his pupils.  I left Borden in 1976, went to college, and then worked in various agricultural industries around the world, occasionally finding myself in UK in March for the Dinner; where Bryan presided.  It was not until 1993 that I achieved Chartered Engineer status.  Bryan saw my name gazetted for this somewhere and passed a message of congratulations to me through my parents.  I don’t know how, after 17 years, he did it but it remains an important memory to me and, I feel, a tribute to him.

Peter Longley - 1969 - 1976

 

Bryan always was in control of every situation and an inspiration to all pupils who were in his care. My two sons always spoke very highly of him and he was the reason I became a governor. To give back to the school something by way of repaying what he had done for my sons.

Phil Bromwich – ex School Governor

 

I was very fortunate to attend Borden Grammar School before Bryan Short retired, following my pass of the 13+ as it was then. I clearly remember his address on the open evening for new boys. I was taken aback by his seemingly austere manner, but as I left the building I spotted him through his office window lighting his famous pipe and leaning back in his chair. I knew from that point that behind his commanding veneer there was something of a gentleman as well, and, as I came to learn, someone utterly dedicated to the success of his school.

The interesting thing about Mr Short was that, from my own recollection, you rarely saw him about the school – yet somehow he seemed to have total control. The exceptions to his apparent elusiveness were the regular assemblies, where I remember at least two humorous moments. The first was when we were not singing loudly enough to ‘Guide me O though Great Redeemer’. He sharply halted the piano, calling “come on all you tenors and basses at the back, sing up will you!”, to which we all smirked widely without really understanding who was supposed to be what; and the second was when someone was caught talking during his address. When he glared and pointed them out, everyone froze. He firmly said “you there – stop talking in the ranks. And don’t look round! They always look round when they’ve done something wrong – off to my office!” And with that the boy sloped out, red-faced with hunched shoulders to await the reprimand that would follow.

There was, of course, a quieter and sensitive side to Mr Short, something I recall from Remembrance Days, when he would often be joined by Old Boy Dennis Jarrett. This sombre event really meant something because of the direct association that Borden’s Old Boys had with both World Wars. On one occasion, with head bowed low, he was clearly seen to shed a tear or two during the Last Post and Silence.

The standards were set very high by Mr Short and they were also met. The school would be regularly flying high in national league tables and winning at many a Kent sports competition. Times change and career pathways for heads are perhaps different nowadays, with many viewing a move elsewhere as the basis of personal progression. So in the long service of Mr Short we were fortunate to benefit from the last of a certain breed who felt a great sense of personal responsibility for the improvement of ‘their school’ over the longer term, and as the basis of career satisfaction.

I remember his retirement in 1998 having a seismic impact through the whole school community. His legacy will be long-lasting, and the continued success of the school owes much to Mr Short’s steadfast contribution.

Alex Holton –1995-2000

 

Very sad to receive the news of Bryan's death. Having left in 1965, I only knew him as a "hands-on" President of the Association and during my time as a Governor. He was a genius at acquiring finance and support from KCC and others on behalf of the School, and a superb leader.

Peter Taylor - 1959-65

 

It was with great sorrow that I learned of Bryan short's death and I would like to pay tribute to this outstanding headteacher. Having worked for over 40 years in the KCC education department I was fortunate in coming in contact with Bryan on two important educational issues.

Firstly, he was an excellent chairman of the local panel which dealt with the procedure for entry to secondary education (PESE)  this involved assessment, commonly known as the Kent Test or the eleven plus, and allocation of secondary school places. Including parental appeals. I cannot recall a single instance where a decision endorsed by Bryan was overturned.  He was a tower of strength in ensuring the success of this often stressful and demanding procedure which is still with us today.

The second issue was Bryan’s considerable influence in maintaining  the status quo in respect of secondary schools in Sittingbourne. Those with long memories will recall the Department for Education and Science issuing on behalf of the then Labour government circular 10/65 which required education authorities to abolish grammar and secondary modern schools and introduce a system of comprehensive education in England and Wales. Plans were duly drawn up and one recommendation was to merge BGS, Highsted and Fulston Manor into one establishment. This happened in the late 1960's when Bryan came to Borden as headmaster. In my view the retention of the Sittingbourne secondary schools as they were was the right thing to do although as an Old Bordenian I am naturally biased. Bryan played a valuable part in securing the successful future of the existing schools. Circular 10/65 was rescinded in 1970 and local education authorities were able to plan their own system of secondary schools as appropriate to local requirements.

Ian Hazell - 1951 to 1957.

 

I attended Borden from 1963, and it was with some trepidation that we awaited the arrival of George Hardy’s replacement in 1968, as Sixth Form and A-levels loomed. George was a living legend, and would be a hard act to follow. But in turbulent political waters, Bryan left the school stronger than he found it, shaping it to his own vision, and even managed to outdo George’s longevity in the job.

A young man when he took over, and short in stature, as well as in name, Bryan had to stamp his authority in the early days: his initials BRS were occasionally defaced to Basil Brush on notices, and he earned from some of the less respectful pupils the nickname Adolf.

He had great expectations of us though, encouraging us to aim high, and - an Oxford man himself - was instrumental in ensuring that four of my year gained places at Oxford or Cambridge. Without the additional help that we received from him and from other dedicated members of staff we would have had little chance. As Head it would have been his decision to allocate teaching resources to us, and I will always be grateful for that.

Richard Yelland 1963-70

 

I first joined Borden as a boy in 1957 and returned to teach mathematics in September 1968, a term after Bryan's appointment at Easter. ( I was George Hardy's last appointee).

Bryan's philosophy was to provide a pleasant environment in which to work, appoint good teachers and trust them to do the job without undue interference. He didn't believe in staff meetings, he was in charge and would make decisions after consulting senior staff, articularly Terry Veal. However, some, who might now be called "woke" teachers, kept insisting that we needed to meet. Bryan eventually gave way, called a staff meeting and kept us there until after 6pm, thus assuring that no one would dare request again!

I was lucky that when Bryan came to observe a lesson of mine, I was teaching algebraic factorisation to a very bright, responsive class and Bryan showed his lighter side, putting his hand up to answer and generally joining in.

Not everyone agreed with his methodology but most of these soon moved on! Indeed, he and I clashed more than once but he always appreciated my honesty ( or should I say forthrightness?).

Overall he was a very good headmaster, a great asset to the school, increasing it's reputation during his .... years as principal; the local paper once referring to him as Mr Brain Short!

Roger Lerpiniere - OB and Staff