Harston School in 1970s & 1980s
Summary by Hilary Roadley largely from Gilly Pluck's memories
Peter Shoot was very strict and from his office in the middle of the Old Victorian building he would watch everyone going about their jobs in classrooms, playground and hall, making sure no-one skipped off early. Mr Harry and Mrs Edna Shipp were caretaker and cook, respectively, and after the kitchens had been built around 1971-2 Edna would take Harry his lunch across into the school house where they lived – initially free – until told off by Peter Shoot. The schoolhouse was available for the caretaker as Peter Shoot lived in Newton.
The plans for the new infant block were drawn up in 1955.The kitchens and school hall started being built in 1971 but were probably completed during the next year. The school office had been next to Mr Shoot’s office in the old Victorian block, then when Pat Legge was head it was at the eastern end of the infant block, later moving half way along the corridor in the infant block. However, once the infant block was joined to the hall, the school office was moved to the side of the school hall entrance having temporarily been housed in a mobile in front of the hall.
Gilly Pluck has been at the school as General assistant for many years (from 1971 to present) and during that time has been involved in helping with raising money for ‘Save the Children’ fund that the school supports and has met Princess Anne, its patron 4 times, including in 1985 when she, Mrs Askham and a pupil presented the cheque at Jesus college.
David Burroughs became headteacher around 1979 after Harry Shipp had retired and moved out of the schoolhouse, so the school house once more housed the headteacher. He brought many innovative ideas to the school, encouraging the first Parent Teachers Association and the first musical to be performed, in 1982, encouraging a school drama performance of ‘Carrots’ about Dr Barnardo’s that many students, parents and staff took part in. He was keen to start evening classes and helped collect old photos of the village and created a scrapbook which is now in the Cambridge Collection. He started field trips taking pupils away for a week in Norfolk or other places.
Gilly Pluck recalls: “When David Burroughs came he started school trips, money being paid out of PTFA. funds for day outings to museums, etc. He also started educational field trips to The Broads during the October half term for the week. This involved three boats, each with 7 children (mainly Yr 6s) on board and one member of staff – myself, Alan Ferguson, David Burroughs, and with an organised crew manning the boats. Parents had to pay for the children to go to cover food, fuel and other costs. The adults on each boat had to drive, then moor the boats and also cook the food (Quite scary!) as well as look after your 7 children. We used to stop at certain moorings like Lowestoft and look around the fishmarket or see thatched churches or other sights.
After David Burroughs left, Mary Askham acted as deputy Head running the school until Pat Legge was appointed in 1987? She encouraged more field visits and plays, and teacher Val Furness lead a school Drama Club and directed many plays by the pupils. The school also had its own steel band called the Harston Harmonites.