We were delighted to take part in the first LDBS Celebration Service held at St Pauls Cathedral on 20th January 2017. Our children lead the procession of the Bishop of London into the Catherdral while Mrs Dyer, Mr Wells and two Year 6 pupils shared the story of our school.
So, why is our school taking part in this special service today?
We are one of the 5 primary schools that are part of the LDBS but not in London. You might not have heard of us before? Our School is in Ashford, Middlesex also known as Surrey but not Kent. Although we sometimes get deliveries for schools in Kent!
We are here today because it is a special day for us in many ways but we are particularly celebrating that 200 years ago to this very day a man called Zachariah Foxall gave £100 to found a charity called “The Sunday School Charity” for children in Ashford and the story of our school began.
Originally lessons only took place on a Sunday as the children of the village were working hard in the fields during the rest of the week.
Quite soon afterwards the Sunday school grew into a day school teaching the “3 R’s” and vital sewing skills.
From those early days schools were inspected and in 1858 Queen Victoria’s Inspector for Schools reported that we were “a nicely toned country school, and in very fair order”. The Diocesan Inspector who like me was also called Dyer! reported “there was a fair sprinkling of intelligent children throughout the school” and that “they were well and painstakingly taught”. At this time the school log showed there was one classroom, one teacher and a caretaker where 118 children were taught in a classroom which would be about 2/3rd’s of the size of your classroom back in school today. It must have been very cosy, possibly a bit smelly.
Over the years the school grew in size and in 1868 the current building opened on land given by the Lord of Ashford Manor, James Mann. For 84 years we were the only school in the area and the road was renamed School Road in recognition of the importance of the school. Up to 1947 the school taught all ages of children.
People would not recognise Ashford as a “Village” today, especially as it is such a built up area around Heathrow Airport. However, we do have something in common with many country villages in that we can trace some of our families back over many generations with at least 5 generations of one family all attending our school.
Past Headteacher’s remained involved in the school after retirement and went on to become “School Managers” like our longest serving Headteacher, Mr Lockington who led the school for 28 years. These School Managers were the forerunners for those important people we know as “Governors” today.
I have been very proud to be involved in such a caring and improving school and enjoy working with Mrs Dyer who is the 12th Headteacher of the school and our first female head. On joining the school in 2011 Mrs Dyer had her work cut out to drive the school forward in very changing times. The Governors and Leadership worked rapidly to raise standards and rebuild our Christian ethos.
In 2014 our SIAMs inspector reported that "Deeply held Christian Values are at the core of the school; underpinning its life and defining its purpose." "The Headteacher and key staff are a successful team whose Christian leadership is inspirational."
This was followed up in January 2015 when for the very first time since OFSTED inspections started the school was graded as “Good”.
This was recognition of all the determination of the whole school community to deliver the best possible education for the children of Ashford and would make Mr Foxall our founder proud today.
Over the years the school has faced more than its fair share of challenges, tragedies and joys.
During the war years the school remained active and the school field was divided up into 17 plots growing vegetables for dig for victory.
As a school we are still growing and are grateful to the Diocese as even back in 1924 they brought electric light to the school.
In 1959 the LDBS built us a new Hall which included a stage. Times change and we are currently ripping out that stage to extend the hall and make a much needed extra learning space.
We feel fortunate to belong to such a strong and supportive organisation who support and challenge us to be the best we can be.
Whilst we may be outside London we very much feel included in the London family of schools.
Our School Song reminds us of our school’s long history.
Every day on our school uniform we wear our school badge which is made up of the letter A, C, E and we can tell you that being part of our school is ACE.
We have thought about what made us proud of our school. We feel:
We feel that our school has changed to be better with more opportunities for all.
We are all looking forward to continuing to celebrate our 200th anniversary. There will be lots of fun activities and a theme of 200 Acts of Kindness which we will do to give something back to the people of Ashford.
We still value many traditions in our school from the past today in 1875 they were flying the school flag just as we are still doing today. Our hopes and prayers for the future are to continue to grow, nurture our children and provide the best education so that they can reach their potential.
Today is the start of us giving thanks for our school, our Christian ethos and Foundation. We remember and celebrate everyone involved in children’s education.
Professional photographs with thanks to Graham Lacdao, St Paul’s Cathedral