This is first hand information obtained from Mike White, the only available member of the original staff. He may be remembered by some of our older parents! And certainly not forgotten by others.
School opened in September 1968 - two weeks into term - by Monsignor Arthur T Brewer, Parish priest of our Lady’s who had been at St Joe’s before that. As the leading light in catholic education in the Northampton diocese, he had observed the 1944 Education Act through Parliament.
Buses did not come onto the school site at first so students had to be accompanied to Barton Road. They eventually did come in but due to pushing by students anxious to get on board, bus barriers were put in place for individual buses. Mike White was asked to paint them. And did.
The contractor, Connolly Construction – still connected with the school through the Kathleen Connolly Foundation – told Mike that he heard Msgr Brewer on local radio announcing that the school was opening in September whilst he was working on January 1969. This explains why the building was not complete when opened – no health and safety in those days. Mike says there were only pipes running along the back of the hall.
There were no bannisters on the main block stairs so everybody had to walk single file up the wall side to the three floors. First usable classrooms were on the top floor. Mike said there were 9 tutor groups at the beginning so 8 were taught in rooms 17 to 24 and he had one class on the floor below.
School opened with a teaching staff of 12 plus Mr Davies with one lady as school secretary, one lady running the medical room – called Welfare – a canteen supervisor and one caretaker.
We now have .... teachers, ..... teaching assistants and support workers and .... administrators
Sheet showing the figures below is headed September 1969 not 1968.
Year 1 67 boys and 83 girls
Year 2 103 boys and 77 girls
Year 3 48 boys and 89 girls making a total of 419
For the first fortnight, many of the staff were involved in manhandling school furniture up to top floor rooms via builder’s hoists and in through the kitchen windows. Mike led the charge although some staff considered it beneath them. (FYI, there was a kitchen in the middle of each floor serving each house from opposite doors.) This is why the IT office has a sink and toilet.
During the first few weeks, dinners were taken up via the builder’s hoist with tureen service in the dining rooms. 8 to table including a member of staff. No science block, no workshops – partly built but not kitted out.