Old Marston Parish Council
ST. NICHOLAS SCHOOL: History
Our local school was founded in 1851 as a National School to serve the children living in the village. It was funded by the state, the Anglican Church, wealthy locals and the money obtained from the children -
In 1871, after a particularly damning report, the school was closed for four years. It opened again in 1875 with Mr and Mrs Rothwell in charge. They were trained teachers, he from Lancashire and she from Yorkshire. On the first day, 75 pupils were registered, assessed and organised into forms by age and ability. The school had begun a new chapter. The Rothwells worked well together as a team, and later were able to employ a past pupil to help. They arrived with two children of their own and had six more in the next twelve years. Most of these became teachers themselves. Mr Rothwell became the wise man of the village. He took the census in 1881, helped parents to understand the effects of new legislation on education as many parents couldn't read themselves, and generally played a central role in the life of the village. Now inspection teams praised the teaching, but usually condemned the state of the buildings.
Sadly Mr Rothwell died young in 1887 and is buried by a yew tree in the churchyard. His wife stayed on working with other heads into the twentieth century. By now the school was functioning well and more able pupils were encouraged to stay on until they were fourteen. A few even went on to teachers' training colleges.
In 1913 a new head arrived with his wife -
The Chapmans finally left in 1932, and were soon replaced by Mr and Mrs Jennings. They too had a war to cope with and this one brought evacuees from London. Those that came in 1939, soon returned home as the 'phoney war' dragged on, but once the blitz started, children from two schools came to the village with their teachers and many stayed for the duration. The school was full to bursting and the Reading Room -
The passing of the 1944 Education Act, meant that the children eventually moved on at eleven, some to grammar schools, but most to Gosford Hill at Kidlington where they went by bus. Once the war finished, all but three of the men returned, the last evacuees went back to London and for a short time the teachers could take a deep breath. But the bulge was on the way!
By 1951 the school was using rooms in the tie factory at the back of the school, the Reading Room and even the pavilion at the back of the White Hart. Cyril Jennings cycled round the village checking up on his expanding empire. At last money was found to build a new school on the edge of the quickly expanding estate of new houses to the south of the village and St. Nicholas School opened its doors for the first time in September 1954. Marston Village School had come of age. It had a new name and was no longer a church school.
Cyril Jennings remained head until 1967 when he retired. He started the tradition of May Day celebrations, where the children processed to the church for a service, then round to Alan Court to crown their Queen of the May and dance round the maypole on the lawn. Under his leadership this new primary school flourished and it continued to do so after his retirement.
In 1972 the schools in the City of Oxford changed to a three tier system and St Nicholas became a first school, having children only from 5 to 9 years old. The Harlow School, which shared the same site, changed from being a secondary modern to a middle school and the children from St Nicks went on there for another four years before moving on to their upper school. In the late 80s the children began to be tested in the basics at 7 -
Change is often difficult to manage, but the school has continued to prosper throughout all the upheavals and is now a junior school giving 316 children a sound basis in all the academic skills they need to face secondary education -
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
The Rothwells, Chapmans and Jennings each stayed at the school for many years, giving a sense of continuity to the children. They also lived in the village and were an integral part of its life. Times have changed and many teachers and heads have come and gone over the years. Each one has contributed his/hers special talents and skills to the education of the children. Today Julie Holland is the head.
School is no longer just about teaching children the three R's. It must include all aspects of their physical well being, their attitude to those around them and the wider world in general. They must be offered the opportunity to express themselves in music, art and drama; to learn new skills and develop their talents.
We have all heard of Jamie Oliver's efforts to encourage everyone to have a healthy eating life style. In the past most children have brought packed lunches from home with very few taking up the option of a cooked meal mid-
The children in this generation of are often described as couch potatoes, and obesity is an ever growing worry. Outside coaching is provided in school time for squash, cricket, rugby, football and multi skills. Hockey, cricket and football are also included in the extended day activities. All sport on offer is for girls as well as boys of course! The children are encouraged to walk to school as part of the school's travel plan. There is to be a 'Get Fit Kids' day and a 'Healthy School' week. The school is working towards having 'Healthy School Status', a scheme run by the county. Part of this is achieved by fulfilling the aims of the Football Association Charter for Schools.
For eighty years the old school was heated by boilers in the classroom which often produced more smoke than heat. If you were near them, you were too hot, but on the other side of the room, you shivered. Some heads became adept at taking them to pieces and 'mending' them. Some had the knack -
A school allotment was started by the head of the time (Hubert William John Pugh) at the end of 1911, in which the older boys could learn to grow fruit and vegetables to feed themselves and their families. This flourished up to WW2. Last year a flower and vegetable garden was started as part of the route to achieving Healthy School status.The Vegetable Plot produced a wide variety of fruit and vegetables -
Now a plan is afoot to change the field behind the old middle school into a meadow including a pond -
The Revd Mortimer would be delighted to know that the school has two choirs -
In the 70's a unit was established at the school for autistic children 5-
When the Rothwells came down from the north to Old Marston in 1875, they found the local dialect difficult at times. This is shown in the way they wrote the new names down phonetically as they heard them -
Over the last few years the timing of school has changed to take account of the life-
Other after school clubs take place during the week. In this case the activities include creative writing, football, cooking, multi sports and choir practice.
When I was at school the classes were known as 1A, or 3B denoting the year and the classification by ability. Later they were known by their year and their teacher, but the natural turnover of staff meant there was not continuity. Now, right from when they first enter school, their classes are known by plant or tree names. The first class is 'Beanstalk'. This takes in children in Foundation 1 and 2. 1 is reception and 2 is nursery in old speak. The older children move on to Sunflower for the rest of their reception year. The rooms are connected by a joint outside play area and each room is decorated according to its name. This provides a very bright and colourful environment for these young children. Once in main school, they can go into Oak or Fir. Fir has some year 2s, the rest being in Palm. Years 3 and 4 are spread between Pine, Ash and Lime; year 5s are in Elm and year 6s in Yew. English is taught in a special room called the Banyan room after an Indian tree.
The school has always fostered good relations between teachers and parents, believing them to be crucial to the education and development of the children. An organisation called FOSNS (Friends of St Nicholas School) was set up many years ago. In the summer term they organise a school fete which is always great fun. Throughout the year they hold other money raising events or provide a forum for discussion and decision about important current matters concerning the school.
Running, entwined throughout the curriculum and extra-
Pennies needed to balance the books
By John Chipperfield »
Like many other schools, the village school at Old Marston, Oxford, relied heavily on what was known as the ‘School Pence’ to balance its books. Pennies were needed to balance the books. Every pupil had to bring a penny on Monday mornings for the privilege of being taught. The school’s only other income came from the Church, the Government’s capitation grant, and some voluntary contributions.
Accounts books from the mid-
Absenteeism was often a problem. In a farming village like Marston, there was great pressure on children to help in the fields. The book records: “In spring, the potatoes and cereals had to be planted, then hay made. When the crops ripened, they had to be harvested, and finally the potatoes had to be dug.”
Many children also suffered ill-
In the mid-
When the River Learning Trust announced their plans to build a new secondary school along the Marston Road and to expand Meadowbrook College on the Harlow site, it was also made clear that St Nicholas School would loose most of their playing field to accommodate this. This decision has caused great concerns and caused a division between parents in New Marston and the residents in Old Marston and others who will be affected by this decision. The River Learning Trust brought this piece of Green Belt land for £1 from the County Council. Considering they owned the land next to Cherwell School, which was larger and more suitable and had recently been vacated by the Harlequins Rugby Club, and had an underpass under the road, people could not understand why they insisted on persisting on building on this site to the detriment of St Nicholas School. The Parish Council joined with others to persuade the trust to build on the land next to Cherwell School instead, but to no avail. Concerns were raise regarding the expansion of Meadowbrook College so close to a residential area as well. There are concerns at the huge increase of traffic in an already heavily congested area as well as the increase in air pollution, considering the catchment area is the whole of Oxford. Also there are huge concerns regarding building a a busy entrance across the UK’s busiest cycle to school cycle track without building some kind of underpass to allow young cyclists to travel safely to and from school (despite an estimate budget of over £40m of Government money).
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