Rufford Comprehensive

 

Rufford Comprehensive School opened 1976 closed 2003.

Rufford has enjoyed a reputation of being a friendly, caring school that went to great lengths to ensure that all its pupils achieved their best potential. This reputation has been fully justified by various agencies and business interests complimenting the school on its children. Sadly, all this will be lost when the school closes at the end of August.

The campaign to save the school from closure brought out the enormous respect and feelings people had about the school. How people from all sections of the community rallied round to help in all sorts of ways was very heartening. Our efforts were unfortunately unsuccessful. As we all know, the Authorities were too often more than a little economical with the truth on too many of the issues raised by us to support our campaign. It is very satisfying to learn at last, though sadly too late, that we were right – and justified in our objection.

I have been a School Governor for nearly twenty years and recognise the devotion, care and expertise of the staff to enable the children at Rufford School to have a good start in life.

The Governors thank all the staff for their time and efforts and wish them well for the future, knowing that the experiences they have gained at Rufford will stand them in good stead in their new employment.

Sadly the closure of Rufford School brings an end to another chapter of village life in Edwinstowe. We can only hope the village will continue to prosper with all of its children achieving their maximum potential wherever they receive their education. Long may the memories of the school last! Rufford School has gone but will not be forgotten.

Frank Duckmanton

Chair of Governors – Rufford School

Rufford is a purpose-built comprehensive school – the only one in this County.

The ideal of comprehensive education is to provide for the needs and abilities of all pupils in the community, to care for each one as an important individual and to raise expectations and aspirations so that all can find their own path to success.

I am proud that even at its closure Rufford is doing that.  One of the most attractive schools in the County, with committed staff and governing body, even with depleted numbers, we are still a vibrant place.

The Year 9 soccer team has just carried off the North Notts Trophy and the Year 11 team won the County Council’s Chairman’s Challenge Trophy.  We are Area and County Champions for Year 8/9 at Cross Country and won third place in Nottinghamshire’s school golf.  This year we have participated in a German student exchange and a residential arts week at Ingestre Hall.  Year 11 have all completed a successful work experience week and impressed a team of visiting professionals in a day of mock interviews.

A truly comprehensive school, the widespread success of its past students speaks volumes for the talent and potential of the young people in our community.  Past students include architects, solicitors, research scientists, gymnasts, teachers, engineers, footballers, members of the armed services, journalists.  The website of Friends Reunited gives a wealth of examples.  The response to the old students’ reunion on 12th July reflects the positive feelings students have always had about their school.

It has been a real privilege to lead a school like this and be associated with the young people and colleagues who have done so much to make the school a real success.  It has been such a success because of our determination to provide a rich and broad education.

We have always taught more than just the National Curriculum including Photography, GCSE PE, Double Languages and Expressive Arts, all building pupils’ achievement.  We have developed links with Italy, Spain and Germany through the Comenius Project and established residential visits to, for example, the Lake District, Wales, London and the University of East Anglia- visits ranging from outdoor pursuits and fieldwork to cultural explorations and opportunities to raise awareness about university life.

The school has been so much more than the lessons taught.  Remember the Gala events, the Fun Runs through the forest and the musical productions like ‘Grease’.

At the heart of the school has been mutual respect and a genuine determination to value all the students and staff for the gifts they bring.  Throughout our lifetime we have been a genuinely inclusive school recognised by OFSTED for the skills with which we have provided for special educational needs.

A school must be rooted in its community and we certainly are.  When the Leisure Centre closed, we responded by opening our facilities to the village.  MIND regularly use our Partnership Room.  We have very close and important links with our Primary Schools.  Most clearly of all, the ‘Save Rufford School’ campaign showed a massive solidarity with all our community.

We all fought with dignity and pride.  Importantly we did it cohesively, together.  We may have lost our fight to keep the school open – but that only reflects a political decision based on size and finance.

By every criterion that I value, in terms of the spirit of education, Rufford is a success.  That is what we will remember about it.

PJ Tully  Peter Tully Headteacher, Frank Duckmanton Chair of Governors

During my 14 years at Rufford School I have had the privilege of working with some really lovely people. The teaching staff have all treated me with respect and my ancillary colleagues and I have always had a wonderful working relationship. Gwen Bramley (the Secretary) took me under her wing when I first started and has given me the utmost support over the years. I have worked with different people in reception over the years, namely Jane Glasby (who is still missed dreadfully) – who administered first aid to all and sundry, Anita Hoyland – who replaced Barbara Lynes as Finance Officer and now works alongside Sue Robinson – Rachel Fox who worked for us temporarily whilst Anita was on maternity leave – Irene Shawcroft (who is our Librarian), and Yvette Powell who came to us last to take over from Jane.

The main function in reception is to try to welcome everyone from the Director of Education to the Chimney Sweep. Over the years we have lent money out to children who forgot to bring their dinner money, we’ve issued temporary bus passes to the children who have lost them, we’ve sewn buttons on to shirts and trousers, and we’ve bought ingredients into school for cooking when children have forgotten them. We’ve given safety pins to hold trousers together, we’ve been mediators between children and parents when they’ve come to school upset because of a tiff These are just a few things that we get involved in – apart from our normal day to day work, of course.

It’s been nice to see children come into school at Year 7 – most of them very shy, and then start to blossom as they settle in.

Then come along the teenage years when some of them turn a bit stroppy, but as they begin to prepare for GCSE’s they settle down again. Upon entering sixth form, they have gained confidence and, with this, comes maturity as they begin to enter adulthood. I take much pleasure in seeing all this happen!

I have formed a good relationship with many parents over the phone, either when they ring to tell us why their children are not at school, or if they have any concerns over their education or welfare. I will miss all this.

Elaine Patman

My name is Natalie Bates and I am a Year 8 pupil at Rufford Comprehensive School and I live in Bilsthorpe, so I have to catch the bus in the morning at 8.15am and I have to get up at 7am.

I really like it at Rufford because it is nice and small and all the teachers know you. There are only upper school and lower school.I really wish they weren’t closing the school. It has been open for 27 years and I think it should stay open for another 27 years, or at least so I can finish my education.

 

A SCHOOL LIFE.

Any situation encountered during the course of a life is remembered. Some have a greater shelf life than others and become things that are never forgotten, things that change our view of our world. Others disperse in a tangle of thought and are brought to mind for no apparent reason at odd times, depending on whatever trigger is there. All memory is deceptive and stories, like the size of a fisherman’s catch, change with each telling. In some cases this definitely improves them; in others it imposes a viewpoint never there in the original event.

My memories of Rufford School are almost always happy and peppered liberally with the bizarre, idiosyncratic, and often damn right loony actions of colleagues, pupils, parents, advisors, the L.E.A. and the occasional fluffy dog. I have attended marriages, case conferences, jubilee celebrations, closure meetings, P.T.A. events, Christmas lighting, christenings and far, far too many funerals. I have in some cases enjoyed and, in others, endured the frequent changes in educational policy over the last 25 years, imposed upon us all by the powers that be, often without any consideration for “those who are about to receive” who are most certainly not “truly thankful”.

I am a teacher at Rufford School, and I am still here doing the job, despite the best efforts of the Local Education Authority, and will be until the last day.

I came to Rufford for the first time as a prospective employee in 1979. Still a student, it was my first interview and I drove from Leicester with a friend who was being interviewed for the same job. We came through some beautiful countryside to what was in effect a building site. I was shown the art room by Andy McKay whose hair was as electric as the two solitary cables protruding through the only bit of the room which then existed – the floor. He gabbled on about having wonderful country views from my teaching room. In effect, on completion, the only view it has is through to the woodwork shop opposite, and its reference to the countryside is the periodic invasion of ants and a decidedly piggy smell from the seasonal muck spreading.

Nevertheless, at the time, it was very attractive, and actually I have always felt this location is infinitely preferable to an inner city landscape. The birds, trees, which are now maturing, and the greenness make it a good place to be. I accepted the job and thus started a 24-year relationship with this school and its community, which I bitterly object to being taken away from me. At the end of that day I had been won over, by the friendliness, openness and humour of the kids I had met, and by something, which in my experience every visitor to the school comments on – the atmosphere. It took me a long to work out what this “atmosphere” is, and the penny never really dropped until I visited other schools, which didn’t have it. The truth is that being part of Rufford is worthwhile. Its inhabitants enjoy being here, people respect each other, they feel safe and comfortable, and this shines through and, yes, there are always exceptions, but not so many. Rufford is child-centred. So many schools say they are. Rufford is! This is hard work, it’s much more difficult than following a formula, and I have always been privileged to work with a majority of staff who would got out of their way to put children first. I was told at my interview; “Don’t expect just to teach, we expect you to help children to learn”. Helping children to learn is not wholly an academic activity.

At the end of that first day I had also got more than a flavour of the staff. The Head of Craft sent his wife in to give him a clue to who was the best candidate. The Deputy Head had discussed his recent operation. The Chair of Governors had had an animated conversation about the cows in paintings shown by another candidate and their suitability as breeding stock, and at lunch I was given a double portion of mushy peas because I looked like someone who might enjoy them? That comment scarred me for the next ten years.

When one of my colleagues left and we were swapping stories of “the day we came for interview” he told me that he had just accepted the job and was asked to wait in the staff room.

On entering he was confronted by the sight of the school librarian, a large man over six feet in height and built like the front row of an England rugby squad, parading up and down in a crochet wedding dress, complete with veil, and humming “Here comes the bride” loudly. None of the other staff in the room seemed to view this as in any way strange, and when he asked the Head his answer was “Oh, that would be our librarian,” A further explanation was never given.

I, of course, would not have found this at all bizarre, just good fun, which is exactly what it was. The same spirit of fun prompted pantos, red nose days, practical jokes and Christingle and a staff always willing to laugh at themselves and to use humour to diffuse difficult situations and support others.

Rufford School is special, creative and original which is why our kids do well with art, music and performance. They shine at sports, they do well when having interviews, they get excellent reports at work experience. There are the negatives; childhood is not easy, children struggle with it, but lots of our pupils achieve highly. We as teachers affect lives in ways we may never know, but the hope is that the change is always positive and improves the quality.

I have loved every second of being here. I am allowed to winge, moan, criticise and be cynical if I want to; longevity gives me that right. I will take away from here priceless memories, pride in what we have done, and good friends. Rufford has taught me more than I will ever teach.

I would like to end with a staff story. It is wheeled out at every leaving “do” and offers hours of innocent merriment, much to the embarrassment of its main character.

Our second Headteacher, Bob Mahy, owned a motorbike. In fact, he was well known among Nottinghamshire Heads for this, and arrived at various county meetings at speed, in leathers and with a shiny crash helmet on a red powerful Honda. He was also notorious for dropping things off the back of it. These ranged from the school mini bus manual, the 500 pages of which formed a trail from Edwinstowe to Blidworth, his brief case (times too frequent to mention) which on one occasion was run over by the number 15 bus, and a tray of mince pies baked by his wife for the Christmas Fayre. It is hardly surprising then, with such an excellent example at the top, that his staff should follow suit, and members of the maths department, science and I.T. all invested in a little “run about”. It must be said, however, these were all along the lines of clapped out scooters, rather than sexy red machines. Nevertheless, the potential for dropping things was just as great.

Suspend your disbelief, let me set the scene. It is November, the rain has been falling relentlessly for two days, it is cold and a raw wind chills to the marrow. School is hectic, the deadline for completing Year 9 reports is 3.30 and they have then to be checked by the Head of Year. We use the small single page report book with individual leaves, which are difficult to handle. The carbon separates easily, and the paper is thin and rips when any kind of pressure is applied. The Head of Year, ignorant of the drama about to unfold, collects the reports and heads for home. It is a dismal journey, the rain, the cold, the condensation, the creased feeling in his underpants from lack of circulation. Then when you get home, the awful realisation that his brief case didn’t make it and somewhere the carefully handwritten reports of a whole year group lie abandoned in the storm.

With no regard for personal safety he immediately sets out to find them. The road shimmers with reflected headlights, spray cascades in every direction. Deep ruts in adjoining fields fill with icy water, and the rain continues to fall like coffin nails, vertical and sharp. The brief case, battered by the fall and numerous collisions, has burst, spewing its contents over the carriageway. The winter wind, no friend in this situation, has whipped up the paper leaves into a frenzy of snapping comments. A lone figure, distraught, jumps from side to side, in and out of puddles, playing some bizarre children’s game, picking up pieces of paper, pushing them into his pockets and leaping to safety. At last he can see no more. He vainly hopes he has them all, that what he saw sticking to car tyres or pasted to window screens were sweetie wrappers. He reminds himself that some day he will laugh about this – that the 30 staff who wrote the reports will laugh about it too, after lynching him. He returns home, and it is only then that the full horror of what has happened confronts him. He unpacks his pockets, two carrier bags, (the slogan on one of them reads ominously “Give teachers a break. CUT PAPERWORK”), and the remains of the brief case. He cannot see one report form that does not have a rip, or a stain or both. He then spends the rest of the night trying to sponge the stains out and iron the pieces flat. This fails abysmally, and the next morning he comes into work. Reaction is mixed, the reports are all redone and out on time, and the scooter is sold by the end of the week.

The human face of this school makes it unique. It is a great loss and I for one will miss it deeply.

By Ann Grocott Head of Upper School.