160th Birthday Celebration
11th July 2016
Pupils at Ellingham C of E First School celebrated the school's 160th birthday last week in its final days before becoming a primary school in September.
They marked the occasion by dressing up in costumes from each of the 16 decades spanned by the school's history.
The school was founded in 1856 to "provide education for the poor children of the parish" and initially catered for children up the age of 14, the official school leaving age at the time.
The reality was many children began working long before that age, and school log books record poor attendance during hay-making and harvest. "They started haying today and most of the older boys are absent," records one entry.
The school has been a primary school before, catering for children to the age of 11, and when the new school year begins in September, Ellingham will once again take children up to 11 with the end of three-tier education in the area.
"Looking into our long school history shows that even a change as big as becoming a primary school is only something we have actually been already in the distant past,"said Diane Lakey, the school's headteacher. "Becoming a primary school is a big opportunity for Ellingham and opens a new chapter in our story. Here's to the next 160 years!"
Mrs Lakey, who adopted a 1970s punk look for the festivities, added: "The children looked amazing and families showed great support with the superb costumes."
The school's cook, Josie Scott, baked a huge celebration cake which was shared by pupils, teachers, parents and members of the local community, who came into school to hear the children sing songs from across the 16 decades, including Happy Birthday to the school.