It’s party time as Melton school celebrates its 50th birthday

Year 3 pupils Mabel and Charlie celebrate the 50th anniversary of their school, Sherard Primary School being opened EMN-190619-104735001
Year 3 pupils Mabel and Charlie celebrate the 50th anniversary of their school, Sherard Primary School being opened EMN-190619-104735001
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When a new housing development sprang up to the south of Melton, off Burton Road, a new primary school was built to teach children from the many families who moved in.

Fifty years later, Sherard Primary School, is planning next week to celebrate its special birthday with a tea party for past and present pupils and staff.

Pupils with a piece of glass anniversary jigsaw the Friends of Sherard School paid for to mark the 50th birthday of the school EMN-190619-104746001

Pupils with a piece of glass anniversary jigsaw the Friends of Sherard School paid for to mark the 50th birthday of the school EMN-190619-104746001

When it first opened back in 1969, teachers chalked on blackboards to deliver their lessons, while today’s intake of children are benefiting from computers and other modern technologies.

The school was divided in those early years into an infant and junior school with separate head teachers, and it had almost 600 pupils.

It was soon amalgamated into one school, though, and these days there are only half as many children compared to the late 1960s.

Peter Burgess (pictured right) started work as a teacher at Sherard in 1971 and he enjoyed the job so much he stayed until his retirement 30 years later.

Peter Burgess, who was a teacher at Melton's Sherard Primary School from 1971 to 2001 EMN-190619-113002001

Peter Burgess, who was a teacher at Melton's Sherard Primary School from 1971 to 2001 EMN-190619-113002001

Now 71, Peter has fond memories of the school, particularly in the years after it first opened, and he has stayed in contact with many former colleagues and pupils.

He told the Melton Times: “There were about 580 pupils there when I started and I remember having 40 children in my class.

“It seems like a lot but that was government policy in those days.

“I believe the initial intake came in from Brownlow School across town, and of course we had lots of children from the new estate as well.

Teachers, and former pupils, Nicola Cross, Becki Cooke and Megan McGrady with Year 2 pupils at Sherard Primary School in Melton EMN-190619-104701001

Teachers, and former pupils, Nicola Cross, Becki Cooke and Megan McGrady with Year 2 pupils at Sherard Primary School in Melton EMN-190619-104701001

“It was a fabulous school to work at.

“We had a pond and an aviary, and we used to take the children out on day trips and picnics to Laundby Woods.

“We also had lots of residential trips and I remember the pupils all turning up with their Teddy bears, and the mums and dads crying as they waved them off.”

Sherard Primary School established quite a reputation for its innovative teaching methods, including the use of open plan classrooms, under its head teacher for 20 years, Mary Brown.

Teacher Sam Snodin, who is also a past pupil, with reception class children at Sherard Primary School in Melton EMN-190619-104649001

Teacher Sam Snodin, who is also a past pupil, with reception class children at Sherard Primary School in Melton EMN-190619-104649001

Teachers and education professionals from across the UK and abroad visited to learn about their ethos, and a film was made to illustrate what was happening there.

Mrs Brown was also ahead of her time in wanting to integrate children with special needs into the school, and money was invested to support their requirements alongside other pupils.

Pupils with learning difficulties, disabled children, and those diagnosed as being autistic eventually moved on to the neighbouring Birch Wood Special School when that was built.

Mr Burgess was instrumental in developing the school’s strong identity with the arts, and he enjoyed getting involved in the various productions.

He recalled: “We had strong links with Melton Players, and amazingly every class in the school used to put on a different Christmas production.

“I also started a tradition of the staff performing a pantomime every year, which the children loved.”

Sherard Primary School, in Melton, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year EMN-190619-104638001

Sherard Primary School, in Melton, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year EMN-190619-104638001

Sherard taught young people who have gone on to become high achievers in a variety of professions, including composer Benji Merrison, who produced the score for David Attenborough’s recent Dynasties wildlife series.

Alumni have also gone on to play guitar with the Tom Robinson Band, sing with high profile folk groups and star in the Britain’s Got Talent TV show.

Many former pupils and staff will return to the Grange Drive school on Wednesday (June 26) for a tea party to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Mr Burgess is now wheelchair-bound after developing muscular dystrophy, but he will be at the party.

He added: “I am always bumping into past pupils and they always want to talk about their school days.

“I keep in contact with my old colleagues and it will be nice to share memories with them at the party.”

Today’s children have been compiling a history project on the school and the town, and their work will be displayed at the event.

Part of that, was a study of how Melton Mowbray pork pies have become so iconic, with Dickinson and Morris managing director, Stephen Hallam visiting to show pupils how they are made.

Anyone with a connection to Sherard Primary School is welcome to attend the tea party, which starts at 3.30pm and goes on for two hours.

Sherard Primary School head teacher, Gayle Bacon (right) and deputy head, Helena Blumfield, outside the school EMN-190619-104712001

Sherard Primary School head teacher, Gayle Bacon (right) and deputy head, Helena Blumfield, outside the school EMN-190619-104712001

Pupils at Melton's Sherard Primary School learn how to make Melton Mowbray pork pies with Stephen Hallam, managing director of Dickinson and Morris EMN-190619-113026001

Pupils at Melton's Sherard Primary School learn how to make Melton Mowbray pork pies with Stephen Hallam, managing director of Dickinson and Morris EMN-190619-113026001