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As remembered by Donna Aitken (nee Hunt), 2008
Rushden Secondary Girls' School
New block c1966
The School in 1966

I started at the above named school in the September of 1968. It was also known as "North End" later to become Rushden Comprehensive Girls School. It took girls from the ages of 11 to 15 with an option of staying on for a fifth year to take CSE exams.

At that time the school was split between two sites. The "Old block" was in The Hayway, Rushden (A school built around the turn of the 20th century). The "New block" was a more modern building a short distance away just off Spencer Road beside the park. For the first couple of years whilst I was there we students had to walk between the blocks for various lessons.

Rushden Secondary Modern School badge
Rushden Secondary Girls' School
I remember the excitement of wearing my first school uniform. It comprised of a white long sleeved blouse, navy school tunic, red tie, navy cardigan, and long white socks with flat shoes. Long hair had to be tied back and make-up and jewellery were forbidden. For outdoor clothes we wore a navy gabardine coat, red beret and a striped scarf. There were also summer striped short sleeved dresses in a choice of colours. I was the proud owner of a satchel previously owned by my brother so it was suitably worn in.

On the first morning I caught the school bus as usual with a couple of other girls who lived nearby and instead of getting off at South End school as we had done previously we stayed on it. Several other children were picked up there and we continued on our journey to the other end of town. The senior boys were dropped off near to their school in Tennyson Road and we girls got off in Washbrook Road and walked the short distance to the school in the Hayway. We assembled in the playground and waited for our names to be called out. I was put in Mrs. Goulder's form.

I was lucky enough to establish a strong friendship early on with two other girls in my form room and in fact we are still close 40 years later. The classes were quite large averaging about 32 and we got on quite well with most of the other girls.

Some of the older pupils were appointed as prefects and we always had to make sure we were wearing our berets when outside the school gates or they would report us. We would be punished with detention or a bad conduct mark. Honours were awarded for good work and if several of these were received in a week the recipient was congratulated during the Friday morning assembly. The whole school met for assembly each morning which was taken by the headmistress. After hymns and prayers the notices for the day were given out and other items of interest mentioned. We would then all return to our classrooms in an orderly manner to collect our satchels and go to our first lesson of the day.

My first headmistress was Miss Boys who was very strict and I was rather afraid of her. I think that she only he ever spoke to me once. She called me into her office and I was really worried standing before her. It was a relief to find that she only wished to compliment me on my lovely white socks which were not all wrinkled down my legs as they were on many other girls, because my mother had provided me with elastic garters for them!

Rushden Girls School Badge
Rushden Girls' School
Miss Boys retired during my first year there and a lovely lady called Miss Leach came as the new head. I admired and respected her very much. She got to know many of the pupils by name. Miss Leach changed the uniform to a grey skirt, white open neck blouse, grey jumper and grey blazer with a thin red stripe and a broader dark grey stripe running through it. I loved the blazer, but missed the summer dresses. We also had grey duffle coats with red lined hoods for the winter and a red scarf.

The "Old Block" as I mentioned previously was a very old building. The Hall was surrounded by various classrooms and the school offices also led off from it. We used the hall for daily morning assemblies and for P.E. (Physical Education). Our form room was at that block. Mrs. Goulder was a lovely lady and she also took us for music lessons. There was also an annex block where we had domestic science and religious education. Those of us in the first year who stayed at school for dinner, ate them in the domestic science room. The food was delivered in from the Portland Road Canteen. Later on I recall that some of us were allowed to walk to Portland Road at lunch time. My friends and I loved the freedom and independence of that walk each day.

The science lab was on the ground floor of the "New Block" in Spencer Road and the other floors had normal class rooms.

We had different teachers for the various subjects both male and female. I recall that Miss Wyman, Mr. Boast and Mrs. Slea taught Maths, Mr. Hartley and Mrs. Woodfine - English and Drama, Miss Bramley - Geography, Mrs. Mell - History, Mr. Garrard - Science, Mr. Essom - R.E., Miss Garley - Domestic Science, Mrs. Westward - P.E, Mrs. Rice - Art and Miss Sugars - Sewing, to name but a few. The teachers tended to stay put at the same school for several years so we mainly had the same ones throughout our time there. Most of them I had a lot of respect for and generally tried hard to do well in all subjects. I enjoyed English, drama and history lessons the most and maths the least. I could never get to grips with science but the teacher was funny. I loved outdoor games in the school playing field and on the tennis courts but the drawback was having to take a shower - Ugh! Cookery was quite entertaining with several disastrous results.

Later the addition of a much larger building, in the grounds of the Spencer Road site, provided us with many more classrooms and a spacious hall including a stage. There was also a kitchen enabling food to be cooked on the premises with a choice of menu and at last I enjoyed school meals.

The "Old block" was no longer required and reverted to an Infant School and Nursery.

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