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Waingels Celebrate Turning 50

An Exceptional School at the Heart of our Community
Our 50th Anniversary was truly a wonderful celebration! Former students and staff
gathered from far and near to be re-united, to remember and reminisce. 50 years since
Waingels opened its doors and classrooms to the young people of Woodley. It was September 1971 (I am even more reliably informed!) that the first cohort of pupils entered Waingels, with others joining in December 1972 when other classrooms were ready.

At the heart of those celebrations, with a beaming smile was former Headteacher Ivan Marks. Ivan was Headteacher from 1978 to 1996 – 18 years at the helm. It was Ivan who, with his deputies Rod Todd and Andy Weeks who built the strong reputation that Waingels has enjoyed over the years. Our community remains indebted to their long years of service. I met a group of young women who had been at rye school during Ivan’s time, leaving in the early 1980s. They spoke with great warmth and fondness about some of their teachers – people who had clearly had a poignant impact on their lives.

We are hugely grateful that our local Member of Parliament Theresa May managed to find the time to join our celebrations. She officially opened the latest addition to our facilities – the full size, floodlit 3rd Generation football pitch, that we have built in partnership with the Football Foundation. She also unveiled a new plaque commemorating the anniversary. Mrs May was not the only parliamentarian present.
Former student Charlotte Nichols who left in 2009 was also in attendance. Charlotte was elected as a Member of Parliament in 2019, representing a set in the Northwest
of England near to where she went to university.

The school, of course, is almost unrecognisable from the original buildings, after the complete re-build in 2010. But a school is not the buildings – it is the people – the staff and students who inhabit those buildings, and the local community which really makes a school. We are embarking on a new collaboration and partnership with 9 other local schools to form our own family of schools in a new Multi Academy Trust, which will be called the Orchard Learning Alliance. An orchard is where young saplings are planted, where they are nurtured and cared for so that they can flourish into mature fruitful trees. You will hear more about this new venture in the Autumn.

But Waingels will retain its own identity, within its own community. Thank you to everyone who joined us in our celebrations. And a special thanks to the team of current staff who made it all happen; to Jordy, Melissa and Jamie in particular – three former students, who organised and worked like trojans to get everything ready, but also to the many staff who stepped in to help tidy, arrange and serve.

It was a very proud day for our school – truly an exceptional school at the heart of
our community. Photos of this event can be viewed on our website here.