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News > Bilton Grange Society News > Sylvia Clements – Fifteen Years at the Helm of Homefield School

Sylvia Clements – Fifteen Years at the Helm of Homefield School

Sylvia Clements at the centre of the School Photograph from the Golden Jubilee Year in 1988
Sylvia Clements at the centre of the School Photograph from the Golden Jubilee Year in 1988

As Sylvia Clements prepares to reunite with former students, staff, parents, and governors of at the Homefield Reunion on 23 March, she reflects on her fifteen years at the Helm of Homefield School. 

During her tenure, Sylvia oversaw remarkable advancements at Homefield. The establishment of essential facilities such as the assembly hall, kindergarten, and Junior Design and Technology Centre stands as a testament to the commitment to excellence that defined her leadership. Yet, Sylvia recognised that beyond the physical infrastructure, it was the people—students, staff, parents, and governors—who were the true pillars of the Homefield legacy.  

We caught up with Sylvia and she has shared her highlights of each period at Homefield in her recollections below:  



1978 was my inaugural year as Headmistress. Homefield thrived with shared facilities from Bilton Grange, including the science lab, swimming pool, and music school. We upheld annual traditions such as concerts, carol services and sports day. Adventure activities with Bilton Grange boys and Brownie outings added to our vibrant school life, and we continued support for charities. Homefield Society Meetings were annual. 


In 1979, we introduced a new prospectus and revamped the Homefield News with photos and drawings. Our nativity play, "Three Men and a Star," took place in the Chapel. We continued our tradition of the annual combined Bilton Grange Homefield Carol service at St. Andrews Church in Rugby. Additionally, we welcomed a new outside classroom for the kindergarten during the summer term. 


Between 1980-1981 , our pre-prep forms delighted audiences with a nativity play, while the 4-5 year olds charmed with Christmas poems and carols. We bid farewell to Monica Summerson upon her retirement in July. Festivities included a fancy dress party for boarders and a gym club for 4-7 year olds. We launched an appeal for a new sports hall for both schools in 1981, and our industrious 9-10 year olds organized a successful Blue Peter bring and buy sale. 


In 1981-82, we introduced synchronised swimming sessions on Friday afternoons. Our Christmas Fair and advent service involved three choirs at St. Mark’s. We embraced technology with the introduction of computers for children aged seven and older. Outdoor adventures included rock climbing in Derbyshire, a cycling and camping weekend in Scotland, and a walking weekend in Devon. The 4-6 year olds delighted audiences with their performance of "Goldilocks" and HMS Pinafore was performed at Bilton Grange involving boys and girls. We also welcomed a new music teacher, and we expanded our horizons with the introduction of sailing activities. 


During this period we expanded our kindergarten facilities to accommodate more children. Our outings took us to see performances such as "Macbeth" in Stratford and "Mother Goose" at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Additionally, we visited the Worcester China Factory, enjoyed a ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and toured the Houses of Parliament. The highlight of the year was the opening of our new sports hall, with the ceremony conducted by David Gower. Furthermore, our production of "The Boyfriend" showcased our talented instrumentalists, adding to the richness of our school's cultural tapestry. 


In this period the choirs mesmerized audiences with their performance of Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" at St. Peter's Church in Dunchurch. Traditional festivities included the Christmas Fair and the heartwarming Christmas Carol Service. This year saw memorable productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" in July and an exhilarating skiing trip to Italy. 


The completion of the ‘Sports Hall’ marked a significant milestone, providing our students with modernized facilities for various activities including Badminton, Squash and Gym clubs. A reorganization of rooms enhanced the functionality of our school, and we celebrated the official opening of the now Assembly Hall by Ian Stott, Chairman of the Governors. We also paid tribute to the esteemed Miss Nancy, who dedicated years of service to our institution. The year showcased a particularly musical top form, culminating in a delightful "Old Time Music Hall" performance. 


An unforgettable concert took place, utilizing the spacious Ravenscroft Hall at Bilton Grange to accommodate all performing musicians. We honoured the memory of Miss Nancy during an emotional memorial service on OB day. The production of "Toad of Toad Hall" captivated audiences, showcasing the creative talents nurtured at Homefield. 


We fondly remembered Pat Clough, who served as Headmistress from 1969 to 1978, during a heartfelt memorial service. The appointment of a Music Teacher from Australia injected new energy into our music program, leading to flourishing musical endeavours which included an exciting performance of "Resurrection Jazz" by the choir and a boy percussionist. Later a production of  "A Midsummer Night's Dream," featured a collaboration with Bilton Grange. 


As we celebrated our Golden Jubilee year, we staged a delightful musical nativity at Ravenscroft Hall. Rehearsals for "The Secret Garden" commenced, with esteemed guests in attendance at the performance. A special service led by Rev. David Banting, a Homefieldian and Biltonian, brought the community together in reflection. Planning for the Kindergarten building, and Resource Centre with a conservatory and weather station underscored our commitment to future generations. Additionally, we uncovered Audrey Machin's handwritten prayer, a poignant reminder of our school's rich history. 


Music continued to thrive at Homefield, enriching the lives of our students. Productions like "The Town that Forgot Christmas" and "The Women Have Their Way" showcased the talent and creativity of our girls, reinforcing our dedication to the arts. 


The addition of a Nursery Class at Roseash Cottage (set up by a Homefieldian) and the full utilization of the New Kindergarten expanded our capacity to accommodate young learners. A diverse range of activities and productions, including "Ladies in Retirement" and a trip to York, provided enriching experiences for our students. 


A period of transition saw changes in the school structure as girls began to leave Homefield at the age of 11 instead of 12. Plans for the Design Technology Centre and refurbishment efforts demonstrated our commitment to modernizing our facilities. Productions such as "Little Women" and field trips to Pembrokeshire offered educational and cultural enrichment. 


The Design Technology Centre became fully operational, facilitating hands-on learning experiences for our students. Productions like "Alice the Musical" showcased the creative talents of our community. We paid tribute to Anne Skyrme, a valued teacher and President of the Homefield Society. The Nursery at Roseash was set up by a former pupil at Homefield School. During this time Bilton Grange had started the transition to become co-educational.  


This was my final year at Homefield, and it was also the year that Homefield became the ‘Pre Prep,’ with ages from four and a half to eight years (the name ‘Homefield’ remained for the buildings). The production of "Midsummer Mink" and the cutting of the cake for Homefield's 55th birthday marked poignant moments of reflection.  


Sylvia’s words on the closing of Homefield School in 1993 (see below) are testament to the enduring legacy and the lasting impact of such a special school:  

‘A great deal of sadness has been expressed by Homefieldians over the closing of the school but I have received some lovely letters of appreciation too. Much has been achieved over my 15 years here, thanks to our forward looking Governors. We have an assembly Hall, Kindergarten and Junior Design and Technology Centre, all of which are going to be assets in the restructuring of the school; but more important than buildings are people and with a dedicated staff behind me it has been possible to give Homefield pupils a good grounding academically and to develop the potential of each and every one of them, Our girls of the last two years have done well at BG to prove it! The children are the most important people in any school but parents and staff – in all roles- come a very close second and I can only thank them from the bottom of my heart and believe there’s proof that we have a good deal to be proud of and thankful for over the 55 years of our school’s history.  

On a personal note I have much enjoyed my 15 years and the friendship of pupils, staff, parents and Govenors. It’s been interesting, stimulating and rewarding working as part of a team headed first by Granville Carr and then Ian. My thanks and all my good wishes to you and the Trust for the future of Bilton Grange. I shall look forward to hearing of future successes.’ 



Join us for the Homefield Reunion on Saturday 23 March. Click here for more information. 

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