Woolston Community High School opened in September 1957 and closed in August 2012. It served 3 generations of families in Woolston and neighbouring areas of Warrington.
Woolston opened as an 11 – 15 secondary school in 1957. In 1973 it became a High School accepting the full range of student ability and now with students 11 – 16. The first ‘A’ level successes came 1979/1980. Originally part of Lancashire Education Authority, when the boundaries changed it moved to Cheshire and finally to Warrington Local Authority.
The school grew in size over the years. The original part of the building was ‘M’ block. In the 1960’s ‘C’ block was built, followed by ‘J’ block (which was renamed ‘D’ block after the first Head teacher, Dan Doherty). ‘A’ block and the sports hall followed. The last new building was ‘JM’ block, named after Jayne McGinley, Head of Science who sadly died. During the hey days of school, demountables formed part of the facilities, remaining until around 2006. The buildings and classrooms have been adapted over the years to meet the needs of all pupils. Where one set of students was taught a subject is not necessarily where all would be taught! Rooms may well have changed their designation many times in the school history.
During the mid 1970s a high alumina cement problem meant that the school had to close so it could be removed from the building. The school moved to a disused Victorian school in Warrington called Silver Street, with half the school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.
School numbers increased over the years from small beginnings to approximately 300 pupils and 30 staff in early 1972. By 1976 there were approximately 1500 pupils and 100 staff on site. Wisdom, Honour and Service formed the school motto, as well as the names for the three pupil bands. Four forms in each band gave 12 form entry. As Padgate High opened and then Birchwood, the numbers started to fall. In 1979 Years 7, 8 and 9 were 8 form entry; 10 and 11 were 12 form with Years 12 and 13 forming a large 6th form. The introduction of a 60 place MLD Unit in the ‘70s recognised the expertise of staff and the total school ethos of inclusion for all.
Over the years staff organised a variety of trips, both home and abroad. These included visits to France, Germany, USA, London, Scarborough, Conway, Delamere and the famous Year 7 Discovery Day around Woolston. The school has also been linked with PJ Simelane school in South Africa giving staff the opportunity to share expertise on both sides.
Woolston has been recognised as a specialist college for Technology, and more recently for Science. It is also well known for the high performance of our students in PE, Art, Music and Drama. The girls won the King George V Town trophy for athletics for many years; the five aside football had a large following; ‘Turning a Blind Eye’ was a national success; drama productions such as ‘Bugsy’ were always a sell out; the Primary Art Exhibition rightly won local acclaim and helped the transition to ‘the big school’!
For many students the school Prom, introduced by Daphne Morris-Jones (Head of Year) is a rite of passage and has been a highlight for staff and pupils alike. For others, the Woolston Cadet Corps was a reason to be proud.
The school has had a total of 5 Head teachers: Dan Doherty, John Botham, Roger Mallows, Mark Gannon and Jill Robinson. They led the school through a variety of inspections and OFSTED visits. The final one recognised, rightly, that the school was very good, with outstanding features. We are historically ‘simply the best’!
Background to the school closure
Warrington Borough Council identified a significant surplus of school places in Central & East Warrington in 2006. At the time Woolston Community High School had a roll of 970 pupils. The council launched a review of educational provision in 2006 (which proved inconclusive) and a further review in 2007. After exploring a range of options the Executive Board of the council decided to close Woolston Community High School in August 2012.
During the closure period between 2007 and 2012 the commitment of Governors, staff and parents ensured that the school thrived and was successful in gaining Science College Status in 2009, was hailed as one of the Top 40 most improved schools in England by the Department for Education in 2010, was judged to be ‘Good’ with ‘Many Outstanding features’ by Ofsted in 2010 and in 2011 secured results well above the national average with 64% of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades including English and Mathematics.
Where do local children go now that the school is closed?
The feeder primary schools to Woolston prior to the closure announcement were Bruche Community Primary School, Woolston Church of England Primary School and Woolston Community Primary School. Following the closure the majority of pupils from these feeder schools now attend Birchwood Community High School, Culcheth High School, King’s Leadership Academy and University Academy Warrington. Some pupils also attend a range of other local schools including Bridgewater High School, Cardinal Newman RC High School and Sir Thomas Boteler CE High School.