Teachers reflect on life at Hesketh Fletcher School, Atherton

HESKETH Fletcher High may well have gone but the Atherton school which closed in 2011 is far from forgotten.
On Friday 60 staff members, who had served at the school between the years 1957 (at the old town centre building) and from 1967 - 2011 (at Hamilton Street), enjoyed a reunion at Atherton Cricket Club.
An ode was especially written for the reunion by Carol Morris and Margaret Cornish who taught at HF for many years.

Here are their reflections:

Hecky Fleck started in the sixties a long time ago,
A school where the children of Atherton would surely want to go.
Head teachers not too many, here I’ll name a few,
Lewis, Shackelton, Walker, Williams and Vickers too.

There have been many changes made along the way,
Far too many, harassed teachers might say.
At first there were registers being filled in with a pen,
Soon along came Bromcom it was technology from then.

There were roller boards to chalk on, your lessons for the day,
You rolled it round but it had gone, your lesson for 2A.
It then became more technical a white board and a pen,
But horror! New technology had taken over again.

There were GCEs, CSEs and even mode three,
Units of Accreditation for making a pot of tea.
The National Curriculum a change that came along next,
GCSEs with every child studying the same text.

The finished result was not important any more,
Knowing how they got there would give them a higher score.
Negatives in their reports was now a big taboo,
Looking at the positives was what we had to do.

There were training weekends at Blackpool and in the Lakes,
“Training for a weekend! Is that how long it takes?”
Baker days were suffered at the beginning of each term,
Just how much knowledge did we poor teachers have to learn?

As if we hadn’t suffered enough by the end of the day,
Boring? Staff meetings followed - with no extra pay.
Each day would start with a briefing, staff trying not to sleep,
Thinking do I want to hear this or could it really keep?

“Assemblies were uplifting” as one was heard to say,
It was then trying to remember the thought for the day.
In the form assemblies a prayer we had to do,
Along with giving the students an inspiring view!

Christmas was a special time singing carols in the hall,
“The twelve days of Christmas” Kirk was heard to call.
At the carol service staff choir voices would ring out,
Under the leadership of Les they were taught to sing not shout.

Money for charities was important and was raised each year,
The hampers for the elderly would always bring a tear.
The sponsored walk raised money and gave us aching feet,
Apart from the devious staff who decided they would cheat! 
(But they didn’t get away with it!)

As skip week took off there was the Hecky Fleck Van,
A production line with every child doing what they can.
Golf trips, theatre visits and mini enterprise to name a few
They even ran a restaurant for staff in Home Ec 2. 

Productions they were many Grease and Dracula are but two,
They were always very successful and got a good review. 
It was one of the times in school when everyone did their part,
Volunteers from everywhere not just from the arts.

Junior club and discos where staff and students could meet,
When Gordon Unsworth once dressed as Big Bird from Sesame Street.
Bobs barbeques were famous cooked in a drum outside the hall,
Hundreds of sausages and beef burgers were made enough for all.

Once a year in coaches off to Alton Towers we went,
A fear of the corkscrew staff weren’t allowed to vent.
Except for those who liked the swans down on the lake,
For some this was the biggest risk that they would ever take.

After five years the students left us for pastures new,
Sent on their way with a special leavers do.
The girls they all surprised us in their skimpy frocks,
The boys also scrubbed up well and even changed their socks!
(Well some of them did!)

Sadly Hesketh Fletcher has been and has now gone,
But the friendships and memories will always live on.
As members of staff we all played our part,
No doubt there were pupils who touched your heart.
Tonight there will be memories that come from the past,
We hope this reunion will not be the last.


Ex-teacher Pat Mills, a staff member from 1965-2004, reflected: "The empty building is now looking sad and in danger of falling into dereliction but it served the community well for 44 years.
"The weeds may be growing over the foundation stone but the special spirit of ‘Hecky Fleck’ will continue in the hearts and minds of the staff and the many generations of Atherton children, who were lucky enough to attend the school, for many years to come."

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