70 former pupils and teachers gathered at Wood Green School last Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of comprehensive education in Witney. 1968 saw the year when Witney schools converted to the comprehensive system from the Grammar School and Secondary Modern system.
As well as over 60 of the 1968 pupils, some of those original teachers attended the reunion. One pupil, David Le Marquand travelled from New Zealand to be present. Andrew Pooley, the son of the first Wood Green Headteacher, Horace Pooley, talked about his father’s pride in creating a school where everyone was welcome and felt valued. There were performances from the Wood Green Senior Choir and new Year 7 pupils had prepared questions to ask the former pupils so that they could compare experiences. Many brought memorabilia from their time at Wood Green, including one pupil who brought his maths homework 45 years late! Everyone was given an original Wood Green tie to wear to make them feel at home.
Pictured above: Student from 1968 with Cayla Edwards (Year 7)
Former teacher Steve Bacon, who was instrumental in organising the reunion, gave a speech which included messages from pupils and teachers unable to travel to the reunion. He had managed to track down every original 1968 teacher or their relatives. After the event Steve said, “ It was a very special occasion and quite emotional for me to see you all and hear about your lives since WGS. I’m so glad you all enjoyed the occasion. I often think about the class of ‘68 and never imagined I would see so many of you again. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon!”
Pictured above: students from 1968 seeing their old classroom again!
Former pupil Lynn Dunsby, who had contacted many former students, gave a toast. She said, “Thanks to everyone who came to the anniversary celebrations which totally surpassed my expectations. The tours around the school proved to be great fun as well as informative and I'm sure all the 68ers would wish to thank the staff at Wood Green for hosting such a super occasion and Steve Bacon for his effort and enthusiasm. We all had a great time. How brilliant to be able to pass time with people you very seldom see and yet whose company you immediately enjoy just as you did all those years ago. Hope lots of us have forged new links with old friends that we can now maintain”.
Pictured above - Students of 1968. Dave Le Marquand and Jane Baston
Rob Shadbolt, Headteacher of Wood Green School today said, “It was a privilege to welcome the pupils and teachers of 1968 back to school. Although we identified together many changes over the last 50 years, it was clear that the spirit of 1968 and 2018 were exactly the same. There was such an affection for the school and each other. The ex-pupils particularly seemed to enjoy the tours, sitting again in their classrooms for the first time in 50 years. The fact that people were prepared to travel across the country and even the world to be there showed the special bond that being the first comprehensive cohort created. We are proud of Wood Green’s truly comprehensive ethos now and it was these people who started it all off.”
One post on Facebook after the event summed it up:
Just goes to show what an influence comprehensive education made to everyone, pupils and staff alike, that we could all get together again and compare notes on how are education has influenced our lives. WGS teachers of 68 made a difference and thank you all for that. It looks like Wood Green School continues to do the same with Rob Shadbolt and his team.