Slideshow: Special school to celebrate special date

A school is celebrating its 100th birthday next month with a reunion of former pupils and teachers.

Kingsley School, Kettering, is marking its centenary by inviting ex-pupils of the primary school, as well as staff, to a reunion on Friday, July 12.

Kingsley Special School (formerly Kettering Open Air School) will celebrate its 100th birthday in July

Kingsley Special School (formerly Kettering Open Air School) will celebrate its 100th birthday in July

The Ofsted outstanding-rated school caters for pupils aged between three and 11 who have special educational needs, such as learning difficulties, medical conditions, speech and language difficulties and autism.

The school also includes a neighbourhood nursery.

In 2011, Kingsley School came in for high praise from inspection body Ofsted, with inspectors sayingteaching was exceptional and outcomes were outstanding.

The school used to be situated in Beatrice Road but moved to its present day Churchill Way location in the 1970s.

Formerly known as the open-air school, it was one of the first such institutions in the country, opening a few years after the first outdoor schools were founded in London in 1908.

Open-air schools were believed to be beneficial to children’s health. In the foreword to one early 20th century study on the matter, Lady St Helier said the schools would do wonders for children, whom she believed might otherwise be at risk of developing tuberculosis.

Carol Wilson, who is in charge of running the centenary events, said: “When the school was at Beatrice Road it was called the Open-Air or Outside School.”

Referring to the new site, she added: “It gave us more space. It was a purpose-built school.”

In the 1950s, children from Corby were admitted to the school for the first time after the completion of a brand-new classroom.

The Telegraph reported that, on Monday, January 21, 1957, a schoolbus took eight pupils from the town to the school on its historic first journey.

The development was the result of a successful campaign run by parents in the town who wanted a school which would be able to focus on pupils with particular educational needs.

One parent said: “I am very thrilled about it. At last they get the education they need.”

In September 1965, there were 76 pupils on the roll. By September 1970 it had increased to 93, and the number reached three figures 12 months later.

By the start of the 1975-76 academic year, a mobile classroom was provided which allowed the school to create two extra classes. At that time the school had a total of 10 full-time members of teaching staff.

Mrs Wilson added: “When we came up here in the early 1970s we took up to 16-year-olds. We phased that out 21 years ago.”

The current headteacher, Tom O’Dwyer, said he was pleased to be involved in such a notable anniversary.

He said: “We are proud and excited to invite all of the many people who have contributed to the Kingsley community over the past century, and look forward to cherishing the legacy into the next 100 years.”

The event on July 12 runs between 6pm and 8.30pm and features entertainment including a disco, various stalls, a prize draw and a hog roast. There will be a big marquee in the back playground.

The event is ticketed, with organisers urging any former pupils interested in attending to get in touch as soon as possible by calling Dionne at the school office on 01536 316880. There is space for 200 visitors and tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis.

Mrs Wilson has also appealed for former headteachers to get in touch with the school ahead of the centenary celebrations.