And there was my old school – Maghull’s Woodend Primary

The Liverpool Echo has an article on its website, which prompted this posting as Woodend is not amongst the schools listed – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/nostalgia/72-closed-demolished-schools-arent-17782814

The photo above was taken in April 2018 and shows the former Woodend Primary School on the right. It was, on closure, merged into Maghull High School, as it shared the same grounds, and became its 6th Form Block.

I only did my final 2 terms of primary school there when we moved into Maghull in December 1968 yet I have happy memories of that short time – Mr Hadaway the Head teacher and Mrs Hughes my form teacher. I then, almost literally, walked across the playing field into Ormonde Drive Secondary Modern School in September 1969. Woodend School opened in 1968 just months prior to my going to it

My other memories of Woodend are sad though as I was involved in helping my good friend Andrew Blackburn in a campaign to try to save it from closure. Another of the campaigners, Pam Edwards, was given the Maghull Civic Award in 2001 (see photo above) for her efforts in setting up a nursery there. Sadly the number of children attending the school was falling in the late 1990’s and Sefton Council’s Education Department had their eye on it for closure.

A significant campaign was put together by people such as Andrew and Pam to try to keep the school going. Leaflets were printed advertising the school which were distributed by the campaigners across Maghull and parts of Aintree but we just could not drum up the numbers needed to save the school. As the end came nearer children moved to other schools locally and closure became an inevitability.

What was so sad about the closure was that the school was a good one, with a great Head (Alex Blythin) and a team of very dedicated staff & teachers. It’s big disadvantage though was that it was all but hidden behind housing in Ormonde Drive and Liverpool Road South so if you were not aware of it you’d hardly be likely to stumble across it.

That it continued to have an educational use was a bit of a blessing but I’m sure there must be many Maghull residents who remember it fondly and regret its demise.

Maghull Town Council recognised the contribution the School had made to the Town when they had this photo taken and distributed to each person in it. It was taken in early 2002, the School closed in July 2002:-(

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

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

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/parents-form-committee-oppose-plans-9585795

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?