HERITAGE - OAK PARK SCHOOL
The following Email was received from Ann Rooney in September, 2012 in reply to our request for information about Oak Park School which we could add to the heritage file we are building up to try to replace what was destroyed. This is what she wrote:
I have some information on Oak Park School as one of the first intake of pupils to attend there the year it opened.
I had attended Stockheath School until I was 11 and we then had to use part of Trosnant School for our first secondary year as Oak Park wasn’t ready. I attended there until the end of 1959 when I moved to Sheffield. (Looking back it seems as if I spent much longer at the school as I really enjoyed my time there.
Mrs Hodge was head teacher.
Miss Savage, deputy head.
Miss Church - homecraft - really enjoyable and learned my basic cooking there and also dressmaking.
Miss Bidden - maths - strict but a really great teacher, class of 40 pupils was no problem to her.,
I can picture other teachers but can’t recollect names at the moment.
It was a very exciting time when we started at the school, all very modern and I remember there were great discussions about a uniform and it was decided we could have lovely gray duffle coats and berets (which I don’t think anyone wore) with a tassel the colour of our house. I think mine was blue (Ashworth), red, green and yellow - can’t remember the name of the houses now, maybe other ex-pupils will be able to remember things I don’t.
In our dressmaking lessons we had to make our netball kit, a white Airtex top and I think a grey skirt. We also had to make our aprons and headband for our cookery lessons. I have always carried on dressmaking since then.
Languages were not really taught that year, although I think there was a try at French when we had a young French student teacher (Miss Simpson) to teach us for a short while.
At the school there was a girls’ block and a boys’ block divided by the big assembly hall and dining halls. I think that not long before I left, the girls’ dining room was used for a sort of early disco as rock and roll was just starting. All very innocent then. I think the floors of each block were occupied by year, so by the time I was a 4th year I was on the 4th floor and we were then starting to get interested in the boys and could see them on the top floor of their block!
School dinners were eaten on tables of eight, with two of the pupils on each table serving the food (jug of custard with skin was something I remember) but all the food was good home made basic fare.
The great thing about the school was that it had a huge playing field, and I loved sport taking part in the sprints, relay and high jump. I was also in the netball team and can forward it if anyone is interested (name of people in the team I remember …….. ). Also in the summer it was rounders. Nothing like hockey in the freezing cold and cross country in the ice that I had to endure in Sheffield!
I was disappointed when I visited Leigh Park a few years ago for the first time in 20 years, to see that Oak Park School had disappeared and I never found out why, as it was demolished. As a lot of much older schools are still in existence, for example I see that Warblington School is still there (we had to go there to take some exams, may have been 11+ or something called the 13+. Not really sure).
I hope this information is useful to you.
Ann Rooney (nee Minter), aged 68.
MEMORIES OF OAK PARK SCHOOL
The following are some of the memories of the school when Margot Darby (Harrison) was a pupil there in the 1959 - 1963 years.
We were divided into four Houses and Fleming’s colour was red, Wedgwood was green, Loveridge yellow and Ashcroft was blue.
Teachers at Oak Park were super and had the patience of saints with the large classes they taught. I personally think we had a much better education than schools give now and we certainly had deep respect for not only the teachers but for each other.
Some of the teachers we had at the time were:
Mrs Hodge, who was the head
Miss Savage, who was deputy head
Miss Simpson - History
Mrs Fenton - Drama
Mr Leigh-Morgan - Maths
Mr Roberts - Maths (had a nickname ‘braces’)
Mrs Ball - Cookery and Domestic Science
Miss Forder - Form tutor and general tutor
Mrs Hern - Science (always had the coffee percolator bubbling away in Science)
Mrs Cook - Games
Miss Turner - Commercial Studies and Shorthand and Typing
Mrs Hinds - Maths and English
Mrs Travis - French and German
Miss Stone - English
Mrs Wilkins - Geography
Mrs Creighton - English
We had assembly every morning in the large hall which was shared with the boys (not at the same time unfortunately). Teachers would stand by the three flights of steps and prefects would stand along the gallery. I was fortunate enough to become a prefect and we had to wear a purple sash around the waist which also trailed down to the knees. Being a prefect allowed us certain privileges, the main one being allowed to when it was wet or cold! Dinners were served in the dining hall and because so many stayed for lunch we had two sittings. I can always remember the lovely treacle tart and custard - scrummy!
We in the upper school were not allowed to take ‘O’ Levels and Commercial Studies - it was one or the other. I opted for Commercial Studies and finished my education elsewhere. Miss Turner, who taught shorthand and typing actually had an office made in the classroom, complete with office equipment. This was quite unique in those days. We were assigned a teacher and helped her with her paperwork.
I enjoyed my time at Oak Park and was sorry to see on Google maps that it no longer exists, but I suppose it’s progress and not sentimentality and, of course, larger schools are required for the growing population.
I left the area and went up to Cambridge and eventually married a farmer so have lived a very comfortable and content life tending the farm. We grow wheat for bread-making, potatoes, sugar beet for processing into sugar for breakfast cereals, sweeteners etc, oilseed rape for cooking and also run a large beef herd, a few sheep and two gorgeous donkeys.
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