School marks its 50th birthday

First published in News

A HIGH school celebrated the past and looked to the future as it reached a milestone in its history.

St James’s CE High School, in Farnworth, is marking its 50th anniversary, which started with a special service at Manchester Cathedral.

But it is not only pupils, staff, education officials and the clergy who have been celebrating the occasion.

Messages of support have come from Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle and skipper Kevin Davies as well as cast members of Coronation Street which celebrated its own golden anniversary this year as it was first broadcast in March, 1961, nine months before the school opened on December 2 .

Headteacher Tania Lewyckyj said: “We know our school is really special.

“Our caring ethos based on strong Christian values offers us a strong foundation in which we can nurture our young people to become kind and caring individuals who make a positive difference to our world.

“We are equally blessed because we can also give them one of the best educational experiences in Bolton.

Our fabulous results this year just go to prove that our motto — Caring for Each Other, Achieving Excellence —holds as true now as it did 50 years ago.”

In 1936, the Rev John Wilcockson instituted a movement to secure a “Special Agreement” Church senior school for Farnworth whereby the Government agreed to pay three-quarters of the cost.

Most of the other Farnworth parishes were too worried about the expense of retaining their own primary schools to be able to offer support for a joint church secondary school as well.

St James’s Church went it alone, shouldering responsibility for the school, which opened on December 2 with eight staff and 176 pupils.

The school quickly established itself as an integral part of the community and, in the late 1980s when it was thought the school might close, local people campaigned to keep it open.

Today the school has more than 120 staff and 1,000 pupils and, of course, the ink wells, blackboards — and a smoking staff room— are long gone. Today, techology has revolutionised the classroom and the way pupils and staff work and, in the home, parents are notified by email and text if an important letter is on its way by “pupil post”.

Fingertip technology is used to order meals in sthe chool canteen, and pupils can email their teachers with work and know their progress is shared with their parents via an online programme with a “live” record of a child’s behaviour, attendance and work.

But the face-to-face parents’ evenings are still a vital part of the school year.

Mrs Lewyckyj said: “Communication is the key to help parents and school work together to get the best for each child and that is why we have invested in technology that improves our links with parents.”

Mrs Lewyckyj added: “As St James’s enters its next phase, the aim is to become an outstanding school.”

● The school is holding a Carol Concert on Monday, December 19. Tickets are available from the school, telephone 01204 333000 for more information.

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