Celebration of 40 years at Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School

09:49 14 January 2014

Head teacher, Nicola Cushion, and the pupils of Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School, dress in clothes from the 70

Head teacher, Nicola Cushion, and the pupils of Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School, dress in clothes from the 70's for the school's 40th anniversary. From left, back, Lillie-Mae Welsh, 4. Centre, Lyndon Fox-William, 5; Mylo Joiner, 5; Kieran Poundall, 7; Harry Cheal, 6; Teri-Mae Baggley, 6; and Zak Thompson, 6. Front, Layla Watts, 6. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2014

The 1970s may not count as “history” for people over a certain age, but for youngsters at one school the unfamiliar decade came to life last week with a special celebration.

Margaret Thatcher’s visit to 11 Norfolk Schools

In January 1974, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited 11 schools in Norfolk as secretary of state for education.

She began by formally opening what was then Woodside First School in Hethersett - and is now Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery - and remarked on its decagon shape and circular assembly hall.

A handful of people displayed placards opposing cuts in education, and, according to a report in the Eastern Daily Press at the time, referred to the Norfolk LEA as “comprehensively useless”.

This was followed by visits to Wendling Village School, Wymondham College, Robert Kett Middle School, at which she saw a special study room and library, Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in King’s Lynn, Thorpe Grammar, How Hill and Wensum Lodge.

She spent about 20 minutes at Wendling village school, which was opened in 1878, and in 1974 had 27 pupils, before stopping to speak to parents on her way out. Mrs Thatcher also apologised at Wymondham College for a delay in the replacement of Nissen huts which were still in use.

Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School was opened on January 11, 1974 by then education minister Margaret Thatcher.

Fortieth anniversary activities included a community open event which former pupils and teachers attended, an exhibition detailing the school’s history, a 70s dress-up day and celebration assembly and cake.

Headteacher Nicola Cushion, who has been at the school 
for four years, said Mrs Thatcher had opened the school because it had been a unique building.

“It was a very innovative school for the 1970s because it’s got 10 sides so the hall is in the centre and all the classrooms come off it,” she said.

“It makes us very special because it’s got a heart and everyone is very much joined. We’ve had to grow and develop and add bits but it’s a lovely school.”

The highlight of last week for many of the children was a satchel which was “found” in the school full of 1970s items such as an old exercise book, toys and a photograph of a class of children from 1974.

Mrs Cushion added that pupils had been trying to solve who the bag belonged to and where it had come from.

“We’ve called the week Hethersett Woodside at 40 and it’s definitely been a learning history project,” she said. “What’s been lovely is that if we’d done the Victorians none of us were alive so we’d have been doing it from learned experiences, but a lot of our staff and parents and grandparents were alive in the 1970s so have been able to talk about it.

“It’s great for me because I’ve met so many past members of staff, and a lot of parents have been doing work at home and they’ve said how enjoyable it’s been.”


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