The Knights Templar School

The Knights Templar School

The Knights Templar School images

Mr Vivian Crellin

Right to Left: Vivian Crellin, 1960 – 1984, Peter Chapman, 1984 – 2006,
Andrew Pickering, 2006 – 2014, Tim Litchfield, 2014 – present)

It is with sadness that we heard news this week that Vivian Crellin, former Headmaster at The Knights Templar School, died on 6th January 2020. Mr Crellin was Headmaster between 1960 and 1984. Mr Crellin was undoubtedly a visionary leader and led the school through a significant period of growth and change, all of which he drove himself. This included extensive development of the school buildings, the introduction of the sixth form and the renaming of the school from Baldock County Secondary School to The Knights Templar School. The changes he made to the school during his time laid the very foundations of the present school. Mr Crellin developed a very special ethos in the school and the legacy of Vivian Crellin lives on in The Knights Templar School to this day.

I have spoken to the family and the school will be represented at his funeral in Harrogate later this month. The school will be paying its own tribute to Mr Crellin later this year in terms of a memorial event and I will keep you informed of this. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family. 

Tim Litchfield, Headteacher


1960 – 1984: Mr Crellin

Vivian Crellin became Headmaster in January 1960 and Barbara Hancock, Frank’s daughter, became his Deputy, as County Hall decreed that one of his deputies had to be female. Mr Crellin approached his task with messianic fervour. He was horrified to find that nobody seemed to care about the education of the so called un-academic children who attended the secondary school in Baldock.  “They were the intellectually abandoned children who knew they had been judged.”  Mr Crellin decided to act. He intended to produce a school where the talents of all pupils were valued and where all could aspire to great heights. Mr Crellin was going to revolutionise the school and was not going to let anyone stand in his way. He got rid of those that he considered to be poor teachers and encouraged those whom he admired.

In 1960, many pupils left at the end of the Third Year (Year 9) and most of the rest left after their birthday in the Fourth Year. Four boys stayed to take ‘O’ levels at the Grammar School. By 1961 there were 15 pupils in the Fifth Year and in 1962 the school became a centre for sitting national examinations. Prior to 1960 the school consisted of the ‘Old Block’ (K Block) but over the next decade the premises were transformed. In 1961 two science rooms, (now History rooms) woodwork and metalwork rooms and gym (now the Drama Studio) were built. By the end of the 1960s the new science block had been built along with the new hall, dining hall, kitchen, staff room, Head’s office, upstairs offices and sports hall with climbing wall. Aby Cottage (the Caretaker’s house) had also been purchased. The school field, on the other side of Weston Way, was purchased in 1961.  By 1962 Mr Crellin was referring to the school simply as Baldock County Secondary School.

The changes made to the school by Mr Crellin laid the very foundations of the present school. He established compulsory school uniforms, issued regular reports, gave the children exercise books and textbooks to look after and take home. He demanded that pupils brought their own pens, pencils and rulers to school and insisted that homework was set. He even stopped teachers sending pupils into town to buy cigarettes for them! He began the Parents Association, bought a school van for outdoor activities and trips in out of school hours. He introduced adventure trips - a predecessor to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. He started the Carol Service in St Mary’s Church and instituted Commemoration Evening. He created the Upper and Lower schools and oversaw a doubling of pupil numbers on roll. He started the Sixth Form and guided the first pupils to gain admission to Oxford and Cambridge. He introduced the practice of having a Head Boy and Head Girl and prefects. When the School became a comprehensive in the late 1960s he gave it the present name; The Knights Templar School.

Mr Crellin developed a very special ethos in the School, which to a large extent remains to this day. He insisted on high standards of discipline and expected all pupils to abide by the rules of the School. He expected pupils to be polite and courteous at all times and expected them to show respect to the staff. He expected his staff to set high standards for all pupils and expected them to demonstrate high standards of professionalism. In his early years he did not expect any teacher to do things he would not do himself. He taught all manner of subjects and even introduced the teaching of shorthand and typing, which he taught himself. Meanwhile he got rid of subjects that he did not approve of such as gardening, rural science and needlework. He also insisted that pupils were taught mathematics rather than simply arithmetic.

He made the pupils and staff feel special and encouraged them to take pride in the school that they attended or in which they worked. He did not suffer fools gladly, and as a consequence many who did not agree with his vision tended to look for jobs elsewhere. Mr Crellin was not unhappy with this as he wanted teachers who he believed would help raise the school to the levels he envisaged. He was not afraid to take teachers or parents to task if he felt that a situation warranted it. As he once said; “I made enemies, Peter Chapman made friends”. By the time Mr Crellin retired in 1984 the school was in a position to flourish under new leadership. However, the legacy of Vivian Crellin lives on in the Knights Templar School to this day, in its ethos and its commitment to high standards for all and the value it places on the pupils it educates.