|Mr. K. Pooranampillai
Mr. K. Pooranampillai was born in Thunnalai, about four miles from
Point Pedro. He was the son of S. S Kanapathipillai, a former
Principal and grandson, on the mother's side, of J.C.T.
Sherrard, another Head of the school. His younger brother,
Theivananthampillai, Reader in Linguistics and English at the
Universities of Kuala Lumpur and Fiji, also studied at Hartley.
Mr. Pooranampillai was an Assistant Teacher at Hartley under C.P
Thamotheram for eleven years. His period of twenty-four years as
principal was marked by re-organization and consolidation.
During this period, there were many educational changes. The
mother tongue was made the medium of instruction from the
Kindergarten to the University. The Assisted School System was
abolished and they had to choose between becoming private schools
and becoming free schools and later, Government schools.
Soon after Hartley became a free school, faced with the rush of
pupils, Mr. Pooranampillai decided, with the approval of the
Governing Body, that Hartley should continue to be a two-form
entry school, that no class division should have more than 35
pupils, and that the total enrollment should not exceed 650.
Hartley thus became a Selective School.
The Principal also took a period a week in each of the lower
forms of the school doing English, and also in the top forms
doing current affairs. He came to know his pupils at entrance
and in the final year, and impressed on them the ideals and
values of life. The Tuesday School Assembly Talks contributed to
the education process. The talks were on Discipline,
Self-Discipline, Punctuality, Planning, Streamlining, Courtesy,
Helpfulness, Sportsmanship, etc. Stories were told illustrating
the cardinal virtues, and of the lives of Saints and great men.
He started the Prefect System and thus gave training in
leadership. Besides the Literary Associations, other School
Societies were organized. The Tamil Manram, & Politics Society,
the Photographic Society, the Drama Society-thus giving Pupils
experience in organization and leadership.
At the term examinations, instead of ranking pupils according to
the totals of marks scored, the Grading system (Grades I, II,
III, IV, F) was introduced. Under the old system pupil who
failed in the tool or compulsory subjects, could still top a
class. To obtain a Grade under the new system, pupils had to
pass in the compulsory subjects and get the required average of
marks. Also under the old system real competition was confined
to the first three pupils. Under the Grading system, any number
of pupils could be in Grade 1. In one year in the S.S.C. /
G.C.E. O/L class, there were as many as ten pupils in a class
division, in Grade 1. Thus the motivation for the effort was
The importance of written work in class was recognized. One
written exercise a week had to be done in five period subjects;
and in three period or two period subjects, one written exercise
had to be done in a fortnight. This ensured that pupils had
enough practice preparing for school Certificate Examinations
which were mostly written ones. In the School Calendar, along
with other dates, the dates when Exercise Books were to be sent
to the office for supervision were given. The Principal,
Vice-Principal and the Senior Assistants shared the task of
supervision. Supervision Reports were in triplicate, one for the
Principal, the second for the teacher, and the third for the
Supervisor's file. Systematic supervision ensured good results.
In 1952, a team of ten Inspectors under the Divisional Officer of
Education did " a full-dress inspection: and their report read:
"This is a good school, where work is well done and efficiently
In 1953, Hartley celebrated the "centenary" of the founding of
the school, and the foundation for a three-storey block was laid.
It was to house the Science Laboratories and to be named " The
Thamotheram Memorial Block."
Hartley had loyal staff, all of whom were hardworking.
Mr. Pooranampillai's idea was that at least 50% should be past pupils
and at least 25% should be from other schools, so that the school
benefited by new traditions and practices.
In sports and athletics, he wanted as many pupils as possible to
participate. Coaching in the basics of cricket was given to
every pupil admitted to the lowest class. In Athletics,
Mr. Pooranampillai felt that every pupil should contribute to the
final ranking of the Houses. There were two Athletic Meets:
there was the dual competition meet for selecting the first three
in each item. Preceding this was a Meet when every pupil had to
take part in a race (100 yards), a jump (long jump) and a throw
(cricket ball). The final ranking of the Houses was decided by
the totals to the points scored the two Meets. In Games there
were inter- house matches in three levels.
When in 1965, Hartley became a Government School; Mr. Pooranampillai
felt unhappy at the delays caused by red-tape, and was planning
to retire. However, he accepted an invitation from the
Management of St. John's College, Jaffna a private school.
There he served for nine years, making his mark there also, as an
administrator and educationist.
Mr. K. Pooranampillai passed away in UK at his daughter's residence on April 22, 2001. His funeral took place in Falkstone, Kent on April 28, 2001.
Many past pupils of Hartley College now resident in UK attended his funeral.
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Article by Mr. P. Balasingam
KP's MSG in 1993
PPA-UK Vice Patron
Page last updated: Jan. 06, 2009