Golden celebration for Upwood Primary School

WHEN Upwood Primary School officially opened on March 21, 1961, few people could have imagined the changes ahead for this small Cambridgeshire village.

WHEN Upwood Primary School officially opened on March 21, 1961, few people could have imagined the changes ahead for this small Cambridgeshire village.

The school was built at a cost of �47,000, in part to accommodate children of servicemen based at RAF Upwood when the base was home to four flying units.

In 1981, however, the site was handed over to the United States Air Force and it became a satellite site to the US base at RAF Alconbury.

Although the last American family moved out of the base in 2007 and the site has been handed back to the Ministry of Defence, American children still attend the school.

There are 180 pupils from reception to Year 6 – when it opened in 1961 it had 300 youngsters – and its international flavour alongside the school’s place at the heart of village life provides an interesting mix.

Teaching assistant Lynn Perkins has worked at the school for 22 years.

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She said: “The feel of the school has not changed. It has always been a caring place, and it is still a friendly and open school.”

Mrs Perkins began working as a helper at the school’s playgroup before moving to the reception class. All three of her children attended the school and she was keen to get involved.

“She said: “It is lovely to see the children come through and progress and move on.

“I have seen children who have been here come back as parents and one of our ex-pupils came back as a teacher – she was a pupil in my first class.”

Caretaker George Cousins worked for the school for nearly 25 years before retiring in 2009.

He was responsible for unlocking the school in the mornings and locking it up again at night, for all the maintenance issues – and, in the days of free milk, for ensuring each child received his or her share.

Mr Cousins was also in charge of maintaining the school swimming pool, which is still in operation today.

To celebrate his retirement, pupils took part in a caretaker-themed sports day and dressed up as ‘mini-mes’ of Mr Cousins, complete with beard and moustache.

Mr Cousins said: “The various headteachers have come with different ideas and they have changed things at the school, and when the next head has come in the school has changed again.

“But my enjoyment of the job and working with the children is why I stayed so long.”

On March 21, Year 4 pupils will re-enact the opening ceremony, which was attended by MP Kenneth Thompson, parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Education.

Parents and children are invited to a party on March 25, and an achievements board documenting the successes of past pupils will be on show throughout the week.

Sharon Whitelaw, the sixth headteacher, said: “We have got the basic school quality marking, and our SAT results are in the top eight per cent of the country.

“This is because of a lot of hard work from staff, and the children work hard as well, as do the governors.”

INFORMATION: Former staff, including headteachers and deputy headteachers, are due to return for the anniversary party. To add information to the achievements board, contact the school on 01480 813510 or e-mail