Golden Jubilee Friday 23rd January 2015
Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, friends and colleagues I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for coming to our Jubilee Mass which launches our celebrations. It makes it very special for us to have your support and good wishes at this time.
Throughout the coming year St. Paul’s will be celebrating its history over the past 50 years and this is a wonderful achievement for everyone associated with the school. Fifty years of unbroken education here on Pool Farm. It is such an exciting landmark for the school.
Many teachers and staff have worked here sharing their time, expertise and knowledge with our children and many of our children have gone on to have successful careers and take up responsible roles in society and we are very proud of them all.
The possibility of a new Catholic school in Kings Norton was first suggested in the early 1960s. There was a programme of re-development in the inner city and many families moved to new housing in Kings Norton and surrounding areas. This resulted in a demand for additional Catholic school places and St Paul’s School was built to meet this growing demand.
Originally before the school was built Mass was celebrated in a Mass Centre on Mass House Lane and served by clergy from St. Joseph’s and St Helen’s. There is a house on Mass House lane with a plaque commemorating this. After the school was built the hall was used for Mass until the Church was completed in 1977 and in an extract from the minutes of a Governing Body meeting held on 19th July 1966 it is recorded that ‘Fr Brown announced a new Parish had been formed based on St Paul’s School and Fr Harkin would be the parish priest’
These close links between school and parish have continued to flourish throughout the years and we are fortunate to have worked closely with all our parish priests – Fr Harkin, Fr Callaghan, Fr. McGillycuddy, Fr. Farrelly, Fr. Des, Fr. Stefan and now Fr. Barry. They have celebrated weekly Mass with the children, led sacramental preparation and been involved with the Governors. We are indeed greatly enriched by this continued support for the school.
We do have the original minutes of the first Governing Body meetings and some of them make interesting reading. For example they record the cost of building the school to be £45,000 (some cars cost this much today). The site was bought for £21,000, the school was built for £77,000 and the Governors received a treasury grant of £31,000.
The ladies in Church may need to cover their ears at this point. When the Governors advertised for a head teacher there were 34 applicants – 33 men and 1 woman – Mr Francis Woollen was duly appointed as first head teacher to St Paul’s school
The school opened with nine staff - three assistant teachers, two students, one secretary, one cook, one caretaker and one Headteacher
There were 110 children on role which included 20 from St Dunstan’s parish and I know we have some of those past pupils here today - Alan Prendergast and Caroline Withers to name two
Today St Paul’s is a very different school from that of 1965. The basic two story building has not changed but other buildings have appeared over the years. A Nursery has been added, a hub for meetings and internal walls knocked through and rooms enlarged, Indeed the staff room has moved many times over the years. Corridors are now part of the teaching space too. All this is to create more space for teaching and learning.
As you all know technology has revolutionised education with interactive whiteboards, wireless networks, the internet and social media. The school has embraced all these changes. If you happen to move now we take a photograph!
Staffing levels have greatly increased too. We currently have about 40 staff working at the school and we have 235 children on role.
Four Headteachers have served the school Mr Woollen the first Headteacher followed by Mr Quick, Mr Hughes and myself. We have all put our own individual stamp on the school and we are privileged to have two of these past heads here today – Mr Quick and Mr Hughes
We have also been fortunate to have dedicated Governors who have given up their time to help lead and manage the school. We remember those first Governors who worked so hard to have the school built in the first place and the parish who supported them both financially and spiritually. They had a vision which became a reality. We thank especially our Chairs of Governors and those I have worked with - Fr Des, Fr Stefan and Mr Carr
A Jubilee provides the opportunity not only to celebrate our past but also to look to the future. We are to become part of a Multi Academy shortly with five other local Catholic schools – St. Brigit’s, St. Columbus, St. James’, St. Joseph’s and St Thomas Aquinas our secondary school. This will secure the place of Catholic education on Pool Farm and in St Paul’s for future generations of children.
As it says in our Mission Statement ‘each one of us is special’. St Paul’s is a special school. Staff here work hard to create a warm, caring, supportive and happy school. This ethos is an integral part of our school. It comes from present staff and it comes from the people of the past. Everybody that has been part of the school has left a little of themselves that has become who we are today
We are St. Paul’s School – a very special school!