While another school year may be ending, the staff and pupils at St Bede’s Catholic Primary School in Rotherham are reflecting on a very special year which saw them celebrate their 150th anniversary while creating a new legacy for years to come.

As part of their big birthday celebrations,

the St Bede’s children have honoured their rich history throughout the 2017-18 academic year by entwining heritage-based topics into the curriculum and helping redevelop areas of the school for future generations. During Victorian Britain, before the 1880

Elementary Education Act made education compulsory for children under ten, St Bede’s Catholic Church in Masbrough voluntarily opened a school in 1868 to give working-class children the opportunity to learn, where it remained for 100 years. Fifty years ago, the school moved to a larger

site on Wortley Road, Kimberworth and was opened by the Bishop of Leeds, Rev. Gerald Moverley in 1968. Today, the school is modern and forward-

thinking with a keen focus on technology, yet it still retains the traditional pastoral values and principles at its heart. To mark 150 years of providing education

in Rotherham, the children have been focusing on history-based topics to discover how life has changed since the 19th century. From fashion to transport, music to toys and games, pupils have been delving back through the decades, particularly in terms of healthcare, education and inventions. Outside of the classrooms, various projects

have been launched around the school to commemorate 150 years. With a little help from the former mayor,

Cllr Eve Rose Keenan, the foundation children planted 150 trees in the woodland area. Class three have turned an unused pond into a prayer garden, while class eight designed graffiti murals for the playground walls.

From launching an allotment and a new

tuck shop to creating a radio news programme, school anthem and a digital book, pupils have also renamed the school houses after local Kimberworth landmarks – Keppel, Grange, Manor and Thundercliffe. But one of the biggest and most influential

parts of the 150th celebrations is the upcoming plans to overhaul the front area of the school with a shiny new sports arena and running track. When St Bede’s moved to new premises in

the 1960s, it became one of the only schools in the country at the time to have an all-weather games area – or dri-pla as it has become known. However, over the last 50 years the dri-pla has

fallen into disrepair, becoming a paradox of its original use as it’s currently out of bounds in bad weather and the school now need to raise £7,000 to help towards redeveloping the gravelled sports area. To help them achieve their goals, St Bede’s

have enlisted the help of Rotherham’s marathon man, Ray Matthews who has become a sporting talisman in recent years due to his continued plight to put the town on the map for all the right reasons. Yet little did the headteacher, Amanda Wassell, know that Ray was in fact an ex-pupil himself.

Cllr Eve Rose Keenan - Planting Trees

Something to cheer about! Winners of the ‘Schools’ Run a Mile a Day Cup’’

Long before his hometown glory days, a

young, cheeky-faced whipper snapper called Raymond Matthews joined St Bede’s School at Masbrough in 1944. At that time, St Bede’s was the only school in Masbrough where the family lived and the obvious choice for his catholic mother, much to the opposition of Mr Matthews who wanted young Ray to go to a state school. Amanda, who took over as head in 2011, was

also a former student, attending with her younger brother Gavin Sharp, who also teaches at the school, during the 70s. But for Ray, his days at St Bede’s formed

the basis for his grounding in life, encouraging him to keep believing in everything he sets out to achieve – including his phenomenal feat of tackling 75 marathons in 75 days aged 75 - while also putting all his faith into helping others. While there may no longer be the big roaring

fires keeping the school warm and the visits from monks that Ray remembers from his school days, he says that joining in with St Bede’s new project felt like coming home for him. “One thing I always remember but could

never get my head around is how we were made to go to sleep in the afternoons on these old camp beds. Now, almost 75 years later, I’m back at the school I started at trying to get these kids exercising every day – not having a nap,” he says.

1950’s Students

Staff 44

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