Burnley primary school celebrates 40th anniversary

Mrs Janet Pay  and pupils celebrate Wellfield School's 40th anniversary (S)

Mrs Janet Pay and pupils celebrate Wellfield School's 40th anniversary (S)

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A “teacher’s dream” primary school built in the middle of a muddy field with no proper road celebrated its 40th anniversary with a street party.

Wellfield Church School broke the mould when it opened in the summer of 1975 as the first joint CE/Methodist school in the area.

Its 40 pupils had beautiful classrooms, a library and a gym in the £100,000 building but for eight years the only way to get to school was along an unlit dirt track or to cut through the grounds of the neighbouring Catholic primary school. t was seven years before there was even a noticeboard to indicate the way.

Today, the busy, bright school has 211 pupils and sits in the middle of the housing development planners in the early 1970s envisaged.

Headteacher Janet Pay and her pupils marked the street party and disco, and tucked into an anniversary cake made by Mrs Tracey Brennan, whose son, Matthew, is in Year 6.

Children have also learned about the school’s history and made a time line marking events over the years and its 20th, 25th and 30th anniversaries.

Mrs Pay is the school’s sixth headteacher. When it opened in 1975 the first head – and road campaigner – was Jim Broadbridge. He was followed by Jim Scott and Jean Hartley until the school’s longest-serving head, Chris Sporson, arrived in 1983.

During his 22-year tenure Mr Sporson saw Wellfield transformed from “a village school in town”. It doubled in size in 1993 with a £260,000 extension, currently the home of Key Stage 1 pupils, and shortly before his retirement in 2005 it was hailed in the House of Commons as being the best primary school in the country.

Mr Sporson was succeeded by his deputy, Janet Smith who acted as acting head until Dawn Forshaw was appointed, and she, in turn was succeeded by Mrs Pay two years ago.

Every pupil at the school has joined in making a special memento of the 40th celebration. They each drew a picture of themselves and the artwork is being used for a commemorative tea towel currently in production.

Every child will be given one and the school hopes to have extra tea towels that families may like to use as gifts for friends and relatives.