Students and Teachers alike at Oakfield Junior School in Fetcham have recently been celebrating the fact that their school has been open for 50 years. Oakfield (known then as Fetcham County School) opened its doors for the first time in September 1963. To celebrate the five decades that Oakfield has been open, the teachers and students will be participating in various activities and the school will play host for reunions to reconnect old friends and acquaintances. I interviewed Mr Hart, current Headteacher at Oakfield Junior School about the event.


How long have you been Headteacher at Oakfield? 

I came to Oakfield as Deputy Head in 1995 and I became Head teacher in 2001 when the previous Head, Mr David Blackman left. So, at the end of this school year in July, I will have been at Oakfield for 19 years, 13 of them as Headteacher.


What do you love about being a Headteacher? 

I LOVE being a headteacher because I love working with children, and helping them to grow up and to learn things. Watching how they change and develop as they grow.  I love taking on a small child and helping them to develop their self-confidence so that by the time they leave us they are able to cope with all sorts of things they could not do before, because they were too scared. I also love working with teachers and helping them to get better at what they do. At Oakfield  now we have the best group of teachers the school has had during my time here. They are so good and they work so hard  - none of them does less than 60 hours a week and you will find some of them here at 7am  in the morning and still here at 7pm in the evening. They are happy to do clubs, run school trips because they share my passion for wanting to do the best job we can for our children. I love being in charge of the school and being able to make changes to make it better. We have done loads of projects to improve the schools facilities which have all come from my ideas. We have changed the staffing structure to enable us to help children more and to run the school more efficiently. I love keeping in touch with children after they have left Oakfield and seeing how they are getting on. I heard recently about a group of girls who were in my first class at Oakfield in 1995. One of them is getting married next week and a whole group of them will be attending the wedding because they are still in touch with each other and all of them are doing well. Being the Chair of Governors at Therfield also gives me a chance to keep in touch with former Oakfield pupils like you. I am useless at most things but I am good at remembering names and faces so when I see a former pupil I can refer to them by name and tell them all the things I remember about them - which they usually find very embarrassing!


How has the school changed in 50 years and how has the number of children attending your school changed in 50 years? 

The school has changed emormously in terms of how it is run. The first headteacher, Miss Burridge was very strict and she liked everyone to know that she was in charge, but actually she had to do everything Surrey County Council told her to do. She had no control over the school's budget,its curriculum, the books and other resources it had, which teachers were employed and how many of them. She could never set up building projects or indeed any improvements. She could not even have a classroom repainted.  All those things were controlled by the County Council's education department and Miss Burridge had to have weekly meetings with the District Inspector to check she was doing everything correctly.  These days I have complete control over all of these things - which makes the job harder, but also more satisfying. The number of children has varied enormously over the years. When the school opened in September 1963, there were 222 children in 6 classes: Form 1/2- 31 children, form 2- 39, form 3- 34, form 3/4 - 41 and form 4 - 40. So very big classes. During the 1970's the number on the roll rose to nearly 400 and there were 4 huts on the top playground to provide the extra classrooms needed. During the 1980's the number of pupils dropped so that when Mr Blackman took over in 1989 there were only 120 children in the school in 4 classes. Today we have 252 children in 8 classes, including a specialist centre for children with moderate and complex learning difficulties.


What is your plan for the 50th anniversary, and how are the children celebrating at school?

We are holding 2 Special weeks in school when the children will be doing a number of activities linked to the 1960's and the history of the school. This will include designing a new school flag. Also, we have planted lots of daffodil bulbs in the shape of the number 50, and we have planted a long hedge. We have put a section on our website for former pupils and staff to record their memories. We will be holding an open day on 17th May, from 11-4 for all former pupils, parents and staff to visit the school, have a look around, maybe catch up with people they have not seen for ages and bring back some memories.


As a former pupil, I myself will be looking forward to attending the celebration on the 17th May and wish Oakfield School many congratulations Here's to another successful 50 years!