Film ID:
YFA 4834

OPENING CEREMONY: FEATHERSTONE HIGH SCHOOL

1976

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a sound recording of the opening ceremony of Featherstone High School. The music is rather distorted, but speeches are quite good.

The recording starts with children singing songs from Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat; Any Dream Will Do, Finale.

Speaker 1: Chairman of the Education Committee: He begins his speech by welcoming everyone to Featherstone; Harold Wilson, the Mayor, the Bishop, councillors Members of Parliament, representatives of the WY County Council, and the Featherstone Town Council, members of the school; staff, pupils and parents, distinguished guests, fellow councillors and ladies and gentlemen. Speaker outlines the way the new education authority in its inception 27 months ago, has contributed financially to local schools in Pontefract, Normanton and Featherstone. In Featherstone alone £125,000 contributed towards the new All Saints' School, Sweethouse, £266,000 to the George Street Middle School, £330,000 North Featherstone Middle School, £311,000 St Wilfred's High School, £50,000 South Featherstone Middle School, £20,000 North Featherstone First School, £120,000 replacement of Purston School, and £1million to Featherstone High School. Education is essentially a personal matter or it is nothing. The LEA cannot be involved in that, only encourage pupils and staff. Though straightened resources, education is a top priority in the local area. At the time of accepting the invitation to open the school Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, but by now a backbencher and Sir Harold Wilson. Sir Harold Wilson's last government was the first to make money available to help Local Authorities reorganise comprehensively. Asks Sir Harold Wilson to officially declare the school open.

Speaker 2: Sir Harold Wilson also greets everyone. It is always exciting to be involved in opening a new school, to join the new staff and pupils, the founders and the pioneers in a new adventure, creating the traditions of the school. Generation after generation, right through to the end of this century and beyond the traditions that you created will be honoured and respected by those that follow. There are many people in this country, in the House of Commons and the House of Lords who attended historical schools, some founded in the mediaeval myths, but it is more exciting to be in at the start, as you are. I know what I'm talking about as I too attended a very young school, which, like this one, was a school in Yorkshire. Tells a story of his own school days, when aged 6 - 54 years previously - before allowing the pupils to go to lunch the Headmistress would require each to write on the blackboard the longest word they knew. Young Wilson chose, 'Committee', something he has been struggling with since, as in the front of each of their school books was written 'West Riding Educational Committee.' After passing the 11+ exam, Wilson progressed to a school only six years old, the first pupils were only still prefects in 6th Form, but the traditions had already been formed. As a member of the debating society Wilson got a good write up in the school magazine, 'H. Wilson of 1C, made a brilliant opening sentence, which unfortunately got no further. My parliamentary colleagues may have wished many times that my brilliant opening sentences stopped there, instead of going on for another 15/50 minutes, which I must avoid doing here.' Wilson then attended a school which had only been open a year, and in which he was the only boy in the Sixth Form. He had the distinction of winning the school prize while being bottom of the class. We made the traditions as you will make the traditions, and set the school records. So I do congratulate you on the exciting adventure you're starting. Reference to current English cricket team, and sports analogies in the House of Commons. Talks about the benefits of the comprehensive system, everyone has a chance. It would see the end of deciding the entire future of a boy or girl at the age of 11. Talks about his constituency in West Lancashire, recently divided up and part of Merseyside and the decision there, endorsed by consecutive Labour and Conservative MPs, to build comprehensive schools in new housing estates, anecdotes of pupils who had been written off by old Grammar school system and now a PhD. Between the 1960s and 1970s the number of schools has increased tenfold, and now three quarters of those in secondary education are being taught in comprehensives. This is right because this is right for boys and girls, the end of the 11+ selection, and the end of the psychological feeling that boys and girls are educational write-offs at the age of 10-11. It is right, because it gives greater freedom of choice, for example in Sixth Form there is greater possibility of specialisation, and marrying together two subjects that are not usually taken together. Suitable not just for those seeking higher education, but for all and across all disciplines; music, sport etc. Talks about current economic crisis, and that Britain needs to learn that it cannot afford to neglect the vocational education of a single boy or girl entering any school. On declaring the school open, Wilson looks forward to hearing good reports from the school's local MP. Decades from now boys and girls will come to this school and wonder how it all began and what it was all about, and who was the man whose name is on the plaque commemorating the opening. So congratulations to the builders, craftsmen, designers, headmaster, teachers, staff and pupils, current and future.

Sir Harold Wilson has the greatest pleasure in declaring Featherstone High School open.

Speaker: Thanks are given to Sir Harold Wilson, a distinguished statesman, supported in his visit by two parliamentary colleagues. Thanks offered to the local MP who supported the building of the new school, but who could not be present today. On behalf of everyone at the school opening thanks Sir Harold Wilson for honouring them with his presence.

*APPLAUSE*

Head of School Governors thanks everyone involved in helping to get the school built. Staff, teaching and ancillary, thanks sincerely for the manner in which they've carried out their duties during the transition. First comprehensive school built under the new LEA in the district. Thanks to Councillors. The aim during reorganisation is to have 10 schools in Featherstone, six first schools, three middle schools and a high school. The reorganisation has been a long process, with many battles, but has proved gratifying.

Sir Harold Wilson, recommends that the governors mark the occasion by granting a holiday to celebrate the formal opening of the school.

*APPLAUSE*

Unidentified Speaker: Thanks to the architects, the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, the teachers, the parents. Asks everyone to stand for the concluding hymn.
Hymn sung, followed by God Save the Queen.