Maghull – My old school is changing fast

I was at Maghull High, previous names Ormonde Drive Secondary Modern & Ormonde High, from 1969 to 1975 and recall the multi-storey block which you can just about see in the background (almost covered by the tree) of the shot being built. That was in the days when disability was hardly a consideration – the block was built with no lift!

I also recall the old Woodend Primary School (which was on the same site) and which I attended for my last two terms of junior school (I’d moved from Rochdale) before going to the high school across the playing field. Sadly, Woodend Primary School closed some years back despite huge efforts by campaigners, with my old friend Andrew Blackburn being just one of them. Indeed, I recall us delivering leaflets in the locality trying to persuade parents to send their youngsters to the ‘hidden’ school. By hidden I mean that it could not be seen from any road as it was tucked away behind houses on Ormonde Drive and Liverpool Road South and its secluded location may well have contributed to its demise. But then in an odd twist it rose from the ashes to become the 6th Form block of Maghull High.

Teachers? I recall the head of Woodend a Mr Hadaway and a teacher Mrs Hughes. From Maghull High I recall teachers Jack Petty (what a lovely man), Ken Livesey, Annabella Cowel, Ray (Rog) Jeffreys, Miss Rimmer, Mr Grindrod (red faced and nearly always shouting I recall)…

Kids I recall? Just one from Woodend and I only recall his nick-name ‘Trolley’ – I wonder who he is? At Maghull High I recall many fellow pupils – Tony (Tad) Jarrett – died @1990, Pete Roberts, Jenny Webb, Russell (Fod) Foderingham, Andrew Beattie – died 1999, Phil Keeling (now Watterson), Keith Connor, Mike Ashley, David Johnstone, Gill Bryers, Alan Latham, Paul Gardner…………. and many others.

And all these memories came flooding back as a consequence of my stopping on a cycle ride along the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail to photo my old school being rebuilt.

Closure proposals for Ambrose Barlow High School – Netherton

This Liverpool Echo story brought back painful memories for me of the failed campaign to try to save Woodend Primary School from closure some years back. I know how the parents and campaigners must feel, their determination to win the battle and the community’s feeling of loss should the school close. I went though all those emotions with Woodend and I think it fair to say that my old chum Andrew Blackburn, who led the Woodend campaign, was utterly devastated when the final closure came about.

Ambrose Barlow RC High School, Netherton

Ambrose Barlow RC High School, Netherton

In the modern world the issue of ‘bums on seats’ is what makes a school live or die. Too few children and it almost inevitably leads to closure under rules/guidance brought in by Tony Blair’s Government, I think. The real issue will always be money in that schools are almost totally funded since then by amounts that are paid over for each child. The lower the number of children the the lower the funding from Government. The consequence of this is teacher redundancies and eventually not the right mix of teaching to deliver the curriculum.

The campaigners probably have just one viable option, to increase the number of children attending the school substantially each year as only this will work. Sadly we failed to achieve that at Woodend Primary in Maghull.

The irony of all this is that running in parallel with this proposed school closure is the fact that Sefton’s Local Plan is seemingly preparing for a significant increase in the number of households being formed in the Borough in the coming years!

PS. I note the Echo article says that Sixty Four children – 20 of whom are Catholic – were due to start there this September. Forgive me but should that not read sixty four children – 20 of whom have Catholic parents/guardians – were due to start there this September? Surely children of 11 have not developed to the stage where they have decided what their religion is to be or indeed whether they will have a religion at all?