Courtesy of Swindon Advertiser:
South Marston Primary School celebrated a remarkable landmark yesterday, reaching its 140th birthday.
Celebrations have been going on all week to mark the occasion, including visits from ex-pupils who described what life was like as a schoolchild there in the past.
“The school has been serving the local community now for many generations,” said Luke Maddison, who has been headmaster since January. “It is important we recognise that fact and celebrate it.”
Yesterday pupils and staff went to a special service at South Marston church before enjoying tea and cakes in the playground. The occasion was reminiscent of the celebrations held when the school first opened its doors on June 25, 1873.
That day’s edition of the Adver described how its “magnificent building, which is of gothic style, with a lofty turret at one corner for the bell, was opened. A large party assembled and the splendid brass band of the 18th Wiltshire played on the lawn during luncheon”, the report said.
Luke said the school has received full support from the community for the celebrations, which represents the close relationship the school has had with locals He said: “We were delighted with the response that we received from the South Marston community. Throughout the week we had a number of really interesting visitors into school, from the schools’ past, going back as far as the late 1930s.”
The guests who have visited the school over the past week have explained to the children how the school has changed they have been given an opportunity to ask questions themselves.
“The children interviewed the visitors and have produced some excellent work in response to this,” said Luke “One boy in year six is the sixth generation of his family to attend South Marston school, going back almost to its opening.”
While much has changed in education over that period, some things are not too different. For one, there are currently 107 pupils – only slightly more than when the school started.
Still, current pupils will be thankful the building itself has seen plenty of modifications over the years, as the number of classrooms has now doubled to four, from its original two.
“Of all the things the children have been learning about they are most interested in the changing use of the school building.” said Luke. “We now have four classrooms but when it first opened there were only two for the whole school, with the hall partitioned down the middle.”
Yesterday pupils and staff went to a special service at South Marston church before enjoying tea and cakes in the school playground.
Locals have also been pitching in to celebrate the South Marston’s latest birthday. Loudest among them were the church-bell ringers, who rang a three-hour-peal in the school’s honour.