A century of schooling

Morpeth First School holding a community day for parents and pupils.  Jac Caygill in Victorian dress.
Morpeth First School holding a community day for parents and pupils. Jac Caygill in Victorian dress.

TIME travel has come to a Morpeth school as pupils, parents and staff mark 100 years of learning.

Morpeth First School in Goosehill has organised a packed programme of activities this half-term to celebrate its centenary.

And for many of the projects children have been stepping back in time to find out what their school was like over the years and learn traditional skills.

Headteacher Elaine Reay said: “The children are very excited. They are all doing a project about different aspects of history from 100 years ago and they are excited about dressing up in Edwardian costumes, learning old songs and practising dancing from the decades.

“We are trying to use the centenary to develop their skills.”

For months the school has been collecting old photographs and memorabilia to put on show, while each class has been studying different topics, such as home life, schools, farming, entertainment, food and the role of women, to make historical displays.

Children have also been making costumes for a Fashion Through The Ages exhibition and year groups have been taking turns to visit Woodhorn Museum and Archives, where they have taken part in workshops, visited an exhibition on Home Life Through The Decades and trawled the archives to find records about their school.

With help from Beamish Museum education officers and the Woodhorn Matters group they have made a new school banner, and working with artists they have designed a stained glass window.

The first centenary event was a community day on Friday involving Year 1 and 2 classes. It followed on from a gardening project last year with Creative Partnerships and brought members of local groups, artists and parents into school to work with pupils on activities such as planting a centenary flower bed, dressing up in Victorian costumes and mat making.

On Friday, June 24 the school will invite families to Dance Through The Decades, with each year group tackling a different genre, from disco to rock and roll and the Charleston to street dance.

And Saturday, June 25 brings the summer fair, which will have an Edwardian theme.

On Friday, July 1 the whole school community will be moving to Beamish for the day. Fourteen buses will set off, with parents, teachers, kitchen staff and governors joining pupils in Edwardian dress to visit the attraction’s old age shops, farm, pit, school room, sports field and tram shed.

Other events next month include an Edwardian Music Hall performance, with children singing traditional Northumbrian songs, a family barbecue with a jazz band, and open mornings for the community to see the school’s displays, including accounts by former pupils, old photographs and log book extracts.

Some of the older children will host a coffee morning for elderly people and members of Morpeth Stroke Club.

And there is still time for former governors, staff and pupils from the 1930s to 1980s to put their names down for a Centenary Thanksgiving Service at St George’s United Reformed Church on Wednesday, July 13. However, they have been advised to contact the school as soon as possible if they wish to attend as the service is for guests by invitation only.

The celebration concludes with a ‘street party’ in the school yard, with bunting, balloons and a birthday cake. A time capsule will be buried and pupils will receive a centenary mug, courtesy of the parents’ association.

Miss Reay said: “We just want to invite as many people as we can to join our celebrations.

“We’re still looking for ex-pupils to contact us with their names and addresses for invitations to the Thanksgiving Service and for them to share their photographs and reports with us.

“We want to celebrate our birthday with our community so we have planned this half-term full of activities that the children, their parents, governors and ex-pupils living in Morpeth can enjoy.”