Early Days: the 1950s and 1960s
Greswold School was first opened in September 1958 to cope with the rapidly growing population in Solihull. Named after an important family from Solihull’s history, Greswold School was originally located in what is now the Foundation Key Stage and Year 1 classrooms. The school evolved from the now mostly forgotten Lode Heath Primary School. Pupils of the former school recall having to help move the furniture and equipment from the previous site at Lode Heath to the then brand new Greswold School. If any current pupils in Key Stage 2 have a close look at the benches the next time they do PE, they will find that some of them are still inscribed LHPS. Things were built to last back in the 1950s!
The first entry in the school’s log book reads “I, Marjorie A. Askew, opened this new Greswold Junior Mixed and Infant School today. The children attending have been transferred from Lode Heath J.M. and I School which is closed from today. A full staff of nine is present and the number on role is 332 of which 220 are Juniors and 112 are Infants. Mr Orton, the Borough Education Officer, visited the school this morning.”
By 1959, the school was already too small and a project to build a second school on the Greswold site was announced. 1961 saw the current Key Stage 2 block completed as the new Greswold Junior School. On the 18th of April 1961, the school was split into separate Infant and Junior Schools. Miss Askew became head teacher of the new Junior school, while Mrs Wood became the head of the Infants. When the Junior school started their kitchen had not been finished so the children had to have their dinners in the Infant school. In the September of 1961 the two, now separate, schools opened properly with 129 children on role in the Infant School and 245 in the Junior School.
In 1962 a Greswold tradition was started when three former members of Greswold, Gillian Laycock, Peter Beswick and Michael Perks, returned to plant trees. The three ex-pupils had become head boys or girls of their respective secondary schools and planted trees to mark the achievement. These trees can still be found at the front of the school.
1967 saw a fresh-faced newly qualified teacher start Greswold; one Mr Ian Carnell. In the same year it was decided that the school was to start later after the school crossing patrol officer died and no replacement could be found. Lode Lane was deemed too dangerous to cross until after 8:55 am. The school log book notes that on 5th July 1968 that the Infant School was closed to allow the children to attend the Royal Show.
By September of 1968 the Junior school had become three form entry. Also in 1968, long serving caretaker Albert Hardy was appointed for the Junior School. Bill Kerr, the deputy head of the Junior School, also left to become Headmaster at Wilmcote School. He was replaced by Mr Alan Roberts.
The 1970s saw a lot of caretakers coming and going in the Infant school and some special celebrations. The number of children in some classes had soared to over 40 in some instances, so the decision was taken to teach children in the Infant Hall until a delayed new classroom was erected. A now lost visit was noted in the log book, with children from the Juniors going skiing in Switzerland during February 1971. This year also saw the Infant School closed for 6 days when a fuel oil strike meant there was no heating. 1971 was also the year Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education paid a visit to the Infant School – the equivalent of an Ofsted Inspection today. The inspector chose not to focus on learning, but instead “complained bitterly about the small size of the playground and the inadequate toilet facilities”.
In December 1973, 15 trees were planted as part of the rhyme based initiative “Plant a tree in ‘73”. These trees joined the others that continued to be planted by returning head boys and girls. Mr Carnell left Greswold (for the first time) in January 1974 for a job in Birmingham, while later in July 1974 Mrs Bullivant (formerly Miss Askew) retired as Junior School Headteacher. Also leaving their position was Mrs Wood, the Infant School Head. When the new academic year commenced in September 1974, Mrs Lane was the Head of the Infant School and Mr O’Sullivan was the Head of the Junior School.
June 1975 saw the start of a Greswold tradition – the Year 6 camp. At this point, the marquee (finally retired in 2008) was already looking a bit tired. The hot summer of ’76 took its toll when classroom temperatures soared to over 90 degrees and led to the cancellation of the Infant Sports Day. However, by January 1977 the new term had to start a week late in order to save fuel as temperatures did the opposite! 1977 also saw a marvel of technology when a duplicator was delivered to the Infant School courtesy of the PTA.
The end of the 1970s also saw money being raised to extend the Infant playground through a sponsored walk and more fund raising for housing in Brazil by a special project involving Lego. The extension and resurfacing of the playground is described in the log book as a “very good addition to the school’s facilities and a very good job has been done.”
As Thatcherite policies swept the land, the 1980s started at Greswold with mothers of Nursery children protesting at cuts outside the Council House. Free school milk was being discontinued and school meals being raised to the princely sum of 50p per day. It was also in 1980 that plans developed to amalgamate the Infant and Junior School, with the Infant kitchen closing in July 1980.
It was in September 1980 that Greswold Infant and Junior schools ceased to exist and Greswold Primary School officially began under the leadership of Margaret Lane. At this point there were 14 teachers in the Juniors, 6 in the Infants and 2 in the Nursery. 526 children were on role. Events like a joint Harvest festival and PTA meetings started to develop the sense of being one school. November 1980 saw the laying of a pathway between the two schools.
In 1982 Greswold underwent a technological revolution with the introduction of our first ever computer. The event was so significant that the device appeared in two newspaper reports! In the report it was suggested that in the future every classroom might have its very own micro computer, with a special scheme where the Education Department would buy one for each one bought by a PTA.
1985 saw another Greswold success when a team won the Road Safety Quiz competition for the whole of Solihull. This was also the year that Mrs Trucchi joined Greswold as one of the secretaries. The 1980s also saw Mrs Thornborrow, Mr King and Mrs Day joining the school. In 1988, Mrs Lane retired as head teacher after 14 years and was replaced by Mr Carnell who returned to Greswold for the second time.
Under Mr Carnell’s leadership there were a number of new innovations that have become Greswold traditions. The House Point system was set up and House Captains elected. The current school logo was designed to incorporate the two greyhounds from the Greswold family crest, replacing the letters GS on the uniform. Another tradition established was the Study Week – a residential visit for children in Year 5. The first Study Week took children to the Gower in Wales. In 1989 children from Greswold first laid a wreath at the cenotaph in Solihull to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.
The 90s saw an upsurge in pupil numbers, with the number on role being 578. In 1991 SATS tests began for Year 2 and the Infant playground was extended yet again. Later in 1991, there was a royal connection for Greswold. After winning a road safety competition, children visited London to receive their award from Diana, Princess of Wales. The winning children also got to meet Philip Schofield.
Competitive quizzing was also all the rage, with Greswold winning three Borough Quiz finals and being awarded a certificate from Central Television. This success was followed by a team winning the BBC children’s TV programme ‘The Movie Game’ and a fourth Borough Quiz win in 1993.
Also in 1993, the corridor connecting the former Infant and Junior schools was build putting an end to cold, wet treks between the buildings. For the first time, Greswold had one central staff room. In 1993 Mrs Jones, Greswold’s crossing warden, was voted Lollipop person of the Year and presented with an award by the mayor of Solihull.
Mr King, one of Greswold’s most famous teachers, was recognised with a national teaching award in 2001. Presented with the award by Dame Kelly Holmes (complete with a TV crew) in a special assembly, Mr King was the only national winner that year to be nominated by a group of pupils’ parents. As part of the award, Greswold was presented with a brand new 'trim track' in the Key Stage 2 playground and its first ever interactive computer whiteboard.
2002 saw the Queen’s golden jubilee being celebrated in suitably patriotic fashion. Children dressed in red, white and blue and were even visited by the drummer for Status Quo for a special percussion workshop. This was also the year that Year 4 first visited Standon Bowers for a weekend of adventurous activities which has now become a Greswold tradition. The early part of the new millennium also saw the Library moving from the main entrance to allow an enlarged School Office with more space for secretarial staff.
Mr Bird took over the stewardship of Greswold in September 2006. In his first year Song Squad performed at Symphony Hall in Birmingham while our girls football team became county champions (with some help from Mr King). Project days became a regular fixture with the school focusing on creative learning. In June 2007, Year 2 headed to Dunfield House for the first time for a residential visit which has now become an annual event. Mr Bird also started to develop links with Anhuibeili School in Beijing as part of a initiative which promoted cooperation between China and UK.
In 2008, Greswold was 50 years old and celebrated its Golden anniversary. Much had changed since the first log book entry half a century earlier. Who would have predicted back then the advent of the Internet and the continuing popularity of X-Factor? A week of special events included the launch of 50 golden balloons. The PTA presented each child with their own memory book to mark the occasion. In the Upper School Hall, a special mural designed and painted by pupils (with a little help from artist Adrian Higgins) was unveiled.
The start of this decade began with the completion of the new extension and the removal of the large shipping container that had been a feature of our car park for a year. Our new extension, which included small group rooms, a wrap-around room, music room and a brilliant new library, was opened in May 2010 by the mayor of Solihull. Co-incidentially this was the same day that a rather large truck arrived with all the wood to create our outdoor classroom on the Key Stage 2 playground - another exciting development. Our pupils were getting quite used to the sight of heavy construction machinery.
Our partnership with Anhuibeili School in Beijing continued to develop with teachers from China visiting Greswold in October 2011. Year 4 got some special lessons from the Chinese staff who were themselves learning how children are taught in England. As the summer of 2012 arrived, Greswold celebrated the two big events taking place - the Queen's diamond jubilee and the London Olympics. There were plenty of themed activities and a whole week of sport to enjoy. The weather was typically British and rainy meaning that the picnic for the Jubilee took place inside while a week of sport left the field looking like a quagmire.
In October 2012 Greswold were visited again by teachers from Anhuibeili School. Greswold presented the Chinese staff with some gifts celebrating the busy summer of sport and padgentry. The nature area got a complete refurbishment thanks to Mrs Cooper and an army of volunteers. During this academic year Greswold's school band became very successful, being invited to play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. We were again awarded a Go4It award - but this time managed to reach the gold standard. Representatives from Greswold received the award in the House of Lords in London. At the end of the year the pupils also enjoyed a health-themed week as Greswold was again recognised as a Solihull Healthy School.
With some help from HSBC, Greswold's School Bank opened for business in October 2013. The bank, open each Friday, is run by pupils from Year 5. There was lots of support for charities as pupils planted bulbs for Marie Curie and also created a giant bobble for Age UK. Pupils also helped at the Hermitage by planting bulbs and designing a sign for their new garden. After a lot of fund-raising, the PTA paid for new playground equipment for both playgrounds. In July 2014 Mr Bird left Greswold to take on new challenges. At the end of the Summer term we also said goodbye to long serving teacher Mrs Day and our school cook, Mrs Hinman.