OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX

 
Stained Glass Windows, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
 

 

HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL II

In The Beginning
The Story of Our Schools


Teachers

While providing what was best in material building, Fr Power was putting into effect his determination to ensure the best Catholic and Secular Instruction and Training for his children and he looked to Religious Orders whose members devote their whole life and energies to Catholic Education, to provide ideal teachers for the Schools.

While the work of building the schools was in progress, he was able to obtain a promise of having Marist Brothers to direct and staff the Secondary Modern School. In this way the Parish became the first in the City to have members of an Order of Teaching Brothers.

Fr Power was likewise successful in obtaining Irish Sisters of Charity to direct and staff the Junior School and teach the girls in the Secondary Modern School.

During the summer of 1937 the Irish Sisters of Charity and the Marist Brothers took up residence in Highfield Road and Edmund Road respectively, and were on duty for the opening of the School on 24th August 1937. The Official Opening Ceremony was performed by Archbishop Williams on 3rd October 1937, which that year, was by a happy coincidence the Feast day of our two Patronesses, Our Lady of the Rosary and St Thérèse of Lisieux.

Education

With the declaration of War in September 1939, Fr Power and the Parishioners were saddened by the spectacle of the evacuations of the children and their dispersal to various points in villages round Burton-on-Trent and Tamworth. The Brothers, Sisters and Lay Teachers took their turn in going out with the children and trying to salvage their work of Catholic Education.

With the varying dangers of bombing of the City, number of the children returned to Birmingham and then went out once more to the country, so that provision for their education had to be made simultaneously in Saltley and in the various country villages, and teachers had to be available both here and at the Evacuation Centres.


This constant state of alarm with its consequent dispersal of the School and interruption of normal school life had no beneficial effects and it is a matter of great credit to the teachers, whose numbers were diminished by the call up of various members to the Forces, that they were able to do so much for the children's education under such trying and discouraging circumstances.

On the night of 18th-19th November 1940 and again four nights later, the schools were damaged by air raids and on the night of 3rd December 1940 three bombs struck the Church.

Near Breaking

From conversations Br Nilus (teacher at school) had with Fr Power it is clear that of all his disappointments and trials this scene of ruin and desolation came nearest to breaking his spirit. The best he could hope for, considering the restrictions and scarcities of the time was to patch up the gaps and prevent the weather from getting in to complete the destruction caused by the bombs as happened in so many instances.

Children Return

Meanwhile the schools were gradually getting back to normal as the dangers of air raids diminished, and the children were brought back by their parents from the Evacuation Centres. Both schools steadily increased in numbers and by September 1943, every place was filled.

Numbers Increase

However, the numbers continued to mount, Fr Power had to shoulder a further financial burden by adding an extra storey to the School to provide more classrooms. This he willingly undertook enabling the Secondary Modern to have on roll that year, 550 Catholic Children, the numbers having steadily increased year by year to reach the present total.

Beginning Present Primary School

All the present buildings of both schools were to be converted for use by the Secondary Modern School alone and a new Junior School was built on the bombed site in Bridge Road.

Vision and Faith

Before the schools were built officials were sent round by the Education Authority to take a census of the children likely to attend, and on the strength of their findings official objections were made to the Schools Project on the grounds that the parish would not be able to find the 520 pupils which was the combined accommodation of both schools. The 1,100 pupils of that time were vindication of the foresight of Fr Power who remained unshaken in his belief in the necessity for Schools even when official opinion was against him.

The Rosary School 1958 - 2003

The Rosary Junior & Infant School was built in 1958 and the children, who had previously been taught in the Secondary School, moved to the new building on 15th April 1959. Five junior classes remained in the Secondary building. Sister Joseph, from the Irish Sisters of Charity, was then the Head Teacher. There were approximately 500 Catholic children attending, many from Irish backgrounds.

In July 1970, Sister Joseph retired and Sister Margaret Anthony was appointed and Fr Stonier was the Parish Priest.

Sister Margaret Anthony resigned in 1972 and Jim Eccles was appointed, there were still approximately 500 children on roll. Most classes had 40 pupils. During this time a Nursery school was built in 1976.

After 12 years as Head Teacher Jim Eccles retired and Jim Caffrey was appointed in 1984. During this time the intake of children was changing. Some Irish families were moving out of the area and Muslim families were moving in.

Eventually classes got smaller and all children were moved to the Junior & Infant school. The Secondary school closed and is now Parkfield School. Jim Caffrey remained as Head of the School for 17 years until he retired in 2001. This time the school was approximately 55% Catholic. John Gubbins was appointed Head Teacher and at present there are 370 pupils on roll with 38% of them being Catholic.



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latest update: 26/1/04