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Theydon Bois County Primary School

The Theydon Bois County Primary School is a school in Theydon Bois, Essex, England.

The Early Days

Theydon Bois School first came into being in the early 1820s but it was not until 1840 when land was made available by the Church of England that a proper school was built. That building was situated in Coppice Row at the front of St Mary's Church. The records of this early period are a little sketchy although historians do know that around the turn of the century the school was in the hands of a Miss Glover who apart from being a very good school mistress was also apparently extremely adept when it came to using the cane and therefore keeping her charges in order. She retired in 1922 and was replaced in 1924 by Mr EJ Fairchild. In 1932 under the 'Hadon' scheme Theydon Bois was granted Junior School status, and the first 'Eleven Plus' exams were taken. At this time the population of the Village was growing at a dramatic rate with construction of the new Baldocks Farm estate and the pressure to supply places was huge. The outbreak of World War ll however, not only prevented any significant changes being made at the school but also prevented completion of the residential developments. It wasn't until as late as 1948 that anything was done about the overcrowding at the Coppice Row site. In June of that year part of the Telephone Exchange was commandeered to be used as classroom space as well as a dining hall and amazingly during this time around 110 meals a day were being prepared and served there. There still wasn't enough space to satisfy the demand for places though, so between 1953 and 1955 one class was relocated to the Working Men's Club near the Queen Victoria Public House, while another was sent to the Sorrell Room, the old library in Coppice Row, and another was sent to the old Village Hall in Loughton Lane. The main school building was now in a fairly poor state and in 1952 the PTA was formed to try and address issues such as the antiquated outside toilets and very poor washing conditions. Relocation was obviously now essential and in the early 50s an agreement to move to one new building was reached. A suitable site was found at the heart of the new Baldocks Estate and construction of the new school began but Mr Fairchild who had been the Headteacher for 31 years was due to retire in 1955. The search for a replacement to lead the school into an exciting new era began.

A Significant Appointment

The 17th of April 1956 was an extremely significant date in the history of Theydon Bois Primary School as it saw Miss EP Burke appointed as Headmistress. Miss Burke had previously been Headteacher at Chigwell Row Primary. Her new surroundings were somewhat different from what she had been used to as her new office was located in the Telephone Exchange. In the early day of Miss Burke's stewardship she used to visit the various sites by bicycle leaving a trail of messages behind her to say where she would be going next. There was also a bizarre routine at assembly time, usually held at the Church Hall, where hand signals would be made by Miss Burke from a central point on the village green to the various other sites around the village to determine whether or not assembly would be held. This was only the case when there was uncertainty regarding the weather. There was however better things on the horizon and the organised chaos was about to end.

A New School

On the 8th May 1957 two classes moved into the new school in Orchard Drive and by July of that year it was fully occupied. Two months later on the 17th September Theydon Bois Primary School was officially opened. The new building consisted of 7 classrooms, a hall, a kitchen and administration offices but soon after moving into the school it was realised that it was still not going to be big enough and on the 29th July 1960 the construction of 2 new classrooms and cloakrooms began. These two classes are currently occupied by 3/4W and 3/4C. Once completed the extension satisfied demand for a while but in 1966, with a roll now in excess of 400, the builders were back again. This time an additional class was added to the infant block and while it was being constructed one class was temporarily sent to the Village Hall just like in the old days. Along with the opening of the new site came the new school uniforms around which the current uniform is based although in those days all children had to wear a blazer and a school tie. The leaf design that is the school's emblem was chosen from a selection of designs by staff and parents. The original colours of the badge were Green and Orange and the design signified the 5 main types of trees that could be found in Epping Forest.

The Swimming Pool

Swimming lessons had been held at High Beech lido since 1949 but Miss Burke wanted the school to have its own pool. In March 1960 a proposal was made to the English Schools Swimming Association and soon after the plan was approved. There was no funding from the local authority so the entire cost had to be raised by way of Bazaars, Jumble Sales, fêtes and regular class cake sales. The paving around the outside was funded by asking parents to sponsor a stone at 6/- each and then sign their name on a chart to show which stone they had donated. The school raised a total of £1300 to fund the new pool. Construction of the pool started in January 1961 and took less than 6 months to complete. Parents and children even helped with the digging using picks and shovels. In the early days the pool had no fence around it and it wasn't till some considerable time later that one was paid for and erected by the local authority. The pool was officially opened on the 16 June 1961 by the internationally renowned swimmer Natalie Stewart who after cutting the ribbon plunged into the pool and gave a demonstration. This was preceded by a parade of decorated floats and one of the girl pupils took centre stage as 'Pool Queen' on a procession from the Green to the School.

Life in School

Sport played a very important part in the school and aside from Sports Day, Theydon Bois was always a prominent participant in the regular District Sports events with the football team regularly coming back with the Lavender Shield as well as many successes at the athletics events. The school even produced its own Olympian, Maureen Barton, who represented Great Britain at the High Jump. Country Dancing was another activity high up on the agenda and the school regularly entered and won district events dancing around the school's own Maypole. The children were also encouraged to play musical instruments or sing at regular concerts that were organised throughout the year. Christmas was always a very special time and each year the school was beautifully decorated with a huge array of decorations designed by the ingenuity of the staff and crafted by the children.. There was a central mail box in the Hall to post cards to teachers and friends and there were parties and carol concerts every year with the candlelit 'Boars Head' carol becoming the centre piece of the festive occasion. The Pool is managed by Randy James.

Time for a change

The summer term of 1974 was Miss Burke's last in charge at the school. She had 18 years in charge at Theydon Bois from the chaotic days of cycling around 5 different ill equipped sites to leaving the Village with the huge legacy of a modern, well run, facility . Miss Burke was given a huge send off at a retirement party held in the School Hall. She went to enjoy a long and happy retirement until she died in 2006. The new head at the start of the autumn term 1974 was Miss J Lynes and she continued where Miss Burke left off ably assisted by the long serving staff members that she inherited.

Here and Now

2007 sees the 50th anniversary of the School at the Orchard Drive site and it continues to prosper in the very capable hands of the current headteacher Mrs E Bonds and her staff. At present there are approximately 300 children in full and part time education at the school spread out over the 11 classrooms. In recent years the school has seen many more significant changes including the addition of another new classroom including a play area for Reception age children, an ICT suite, new changing rooms for the pool, a new library as well as ongoing improvements to the classrooms.

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