School History – 1930

1930: STB Becomes a Senior School

The 30s brought considerable change to the education provision of the Audley area. Until this period there were a number of all age ‘elementary schools’ which provided education from infant to age 14. By selection the more able were transferred at 11 to ‘Secondary Schools’ (in today’s terms Grammar Schools). Given the increasing demands of teaching children after the age of 11 the government published the Hadow Report of 192. This recommended separate ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ education, the raising of the school leaving age to 15, educational selection at 11, transfer of late developing pupils, separate examinations for differing abilities, ‘different but not inferior’ and reorganisation of educational administration. There was considerable opposition to the report across the country and it was not until 1938 that it was implemented in the Audley area. When implemented Elementary Schools in Alsager Bank, Audley, Ravens Lane and Wood Lane lost their senior departments and became primary schools. At Halmer End, the Infant and Junior departments were closed and the senior department extended to cover the whole of the Audley & District area.

To accommodate the extra children a large expansion programme was agreed for the school. This was completed by 1938 and consisted of a large hall, science laboratories, craft rooms and offices. The new buildings were constructed in letter shape around a central yard.

1st Dec 1938 until 1950: The school under Mr. Bowers

Mr. W Bowers assumed control of the new school in DEC 1938 having worked previously at the Audley Elementary School in their senior department. His immediate priority was to establish the new ‘senior’ only school and settle the fears of the local population that their local schools were being destroyed.

The move was far from popular with parents. Although employment could be good in the area, even in prosperous times wages were poor. Also most families relied upon the coal mines for work. When trade in the country as a whole dropped the mines were always badly affected. The depression of the 1920s had been very had for the area but even afterwards trade only slowly started to recover. Many of the local mines, and hence the families that relied upon them were experiencing problems. Time was hard for families. The new education system meant they had to find bus fares to the new school and provide a lunch, as it was now too far for them to walk home for a meal. The situation developed into a full strike. In the winter of 1938 parents in the Audley village end of the school’s catchment prevented their children from attending the school. Although it was only a 2 miles walk parents simply could not afford the proper clothing and boots needed to travel over the bad roads in the wet weather. They could not even afford the three pence per day dinner money which was required for a midday meal at the school or to pay for the bus fare. Although there were similar strike across the country the Audley was particularly fiercely supported. In the subsequent investigation a report on the incident it was found that many of the children were simply too weak to manage the four mile walk each day!

The local authority reacted with severe sanctions threatening court action and imprisonment. One parent, Mr. Swann spoke at the official inquiry on behalf of the parents and described the bitter problems they all faced. The county magistrates, who many local people thought would automatically support the County, rapidly dismissed the charges and ordered free transport. After a while the difficulties subsided and the new enlarged school started to develop. A new head was appointed to the school at the time of it being enlarged and he soon made rapid progress. It wasn’t long, however, before the peaceful routine for the school was further disrupted with the outbreak of the second world war.

At first the war caused little damage or disruption but soon the constant air raids became serious problem. The school log books describe some weeks when there was an air raid warning every day! Despite this the staff report how well the children adapted to the new situation. 1939 saw evacuated children from Manchester being sent to the village. 150 pupils from the Holy Name Catholic Secondary School joined the school. Initially this was on a temporary basis but after a while the Manchester School was formerly closed and amalgamated with Halmer End. This put enormous pressure on the school. To cope, in the early stages the two ‘schools’ were run separately. Halmer End would teach their pupils from 9.00 until 12.45 leaving the Manchester School to use the buildings between 1.15 and 3.00. By late 1940 the two schools ran as one under the leadership of the Halmer End Headteacher. Further evacuees arrived in 1941. This group was much lower in number and consisted of 35 pupils from Liverpool.