Modernism on Sea at Talbot Heath School


- Credit: Archant

As Talbot Heath School gets ready to host Modernism on Sea, a festival celebrating the art and culture of the 1930s, its Head, Angharad Holloway explains the inspiration behind the event

When Talbot Heath School moved to its current site in 1936, one word encapsulated the vision of the founder and Head, Miss Broad - modernity. The new buildings were designed to embody the spirit of the age; they were to be a physical representation of a new type of education, particularly for girls. The school left behind its cramped classrooms in Victorian houses and moved into buildings that were light, spacious with clean lines and open spaces. Hubert Worthington, a pupil of Lutyens, one of the word’s most innovative and influential architects of the period, designed the school buildings. Interiors were supplied by Heals in London and featured in their ‘ Modern’ collection of 1935. Eric Gill, the young graphic designer and sculptor whose work adorned the new BBC building Broadcasting House in London, was commissioned to design exterior lunettes for the boarding houses. Every facet of the learning environment was to be modern.

The learning areas themselves catered for the latest educational thinking, including Bournemouth’s first school science laboratories and gymnasium. The pupils were to be at the very forefront of the new age, young women making the most of their hard won freedoms, determined to blaze a trail in the modern world. It is no coincidence that these young women went on to become many of the first female undergraduates, judges, doctors, scientists, editors and politicians in Britain. They had been taught to aspire and grasp the opportunities of the new age firmly, with both hands.

So 80 years later what does modernity mean in this age of education? Well, on one hand it is epitomised by our iPad initiative for all pupils from the age of three to 18. It is the robots that our girls build, the websites that they design for their own products for Dragons’ Den, the green screens that transport their lessons into another world. At the same time, modernity for me means thinking globally, educating students in a way that will prepare them for the future. I reject a return to the rote learning of the 1950s. Our pupils will need to be digitally proficient, creative and adaptable thinkers, as well as confident communicators who can problem solve and work well collaboratively and independently.

It is time, once again, for a ‘ modern’ approach to education. The world is changing rapidly and, as educators, we need to embrace this change and look to the future - the future that our younger generations will inhabit.

Modernism on Sea Festival - 2-3 July

A ‘must see’ for lovers of the Modernist era this cultural event features talks and workshops from some of the UK’s leading experts in this field within the beautiful Modernist setting of the Talbot Heath campus in Bournemouth. Weekend tickets £20 per person or £5 per talk (children free). Find out more at

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