History of the School

A Catholic school has been in Redhill since 1867, initially in Brighton Road, where there was also a church and priest's house.   In 1889, a French order of nuns, who had opened a convent in Redhill two years earlier, bought land in Ladbroke Road and built a school there. The convent co-operated with St Joseph's School by assisting with teaching Religious Education to the children at St Joseph's.

The recorded history for the school begins in November 1902. The first entry in the log book records that there were two teachers, Sr Mary Louis and Sr Mary Genevieve, three managers (governors) and five classes. The average attendance was 33 pupils who were taught English, Arithmetic, Geography, Elementary Science, Singing, PE, Drawing and Needlework.

Since its foundation, the school has been central to the life of the parish and even today, many of the current children have been preceded by their parents and grandparents. These roots are part of the school’s fabric and an important aspect of the school’s ethos of belonging and support.  Nuns were part of the teaching staff until 1972 when Sr Anastasia retired. Sr Silvester was on the staff for 44 years until she retired in 1971.

The school is also a witness to the history of the parish, for example on 29 August 1940 it is recorded, 'prolonged air raid activity – no morning session'. On 29 November 1940 the records state 'the attendance is seriously affected by the continued air raids. In addition, there is at present a severe epidemic of chicken pox'.

Evolution of the School

The school as it is today evolved from when records began in 1902. There have been changes in curriculum, teaching methods, location and structure but the school has managed to remain a central presence in the community and has retained its close relationship with the church and the values of Catholicism. Some important milestones are given here;

13.06.39: First inspection by the Board of Education states “the children are pleasantly controlled and well behaved”.

01.05.51: There were 147 pupils in five classes; Admissions, Infants, Lower Juniors, Upper Juniors and Seniors, the biggest class was 38.

01.09.60: New school opened on Linkfield Lane with 239 pupils; classes became known as Reception, 2nd Infants, Top Infants and Forms 1-4.

05.04.63: Erection of two temporary huts to address overcrowding and a long waiting list.

01.07.63: French lessons commenced.

03.09.63: Classes became known as Reception, 1st Infants, 2nd Infants, Top Infants and Forms 1-4. There were 287 pupils, some classes had 44.

01.09.64: Introduction of Transition Class between Top Infants and Form 1.

01.09.66: There were 369 pupils, one class had 47.

April 1967: Attendance at school limited to those over 5s to manage over-crowding.

May 1969:  Permission granted to open additional accommodation in Frenches Road.

05.09.69: St Joseph’s RCP (annexe) Frenches Road opened with two classes.

31.07.71: Sr Silvester retires after 44 years association with the school.

June 1972: Sr Anastasia retires.

School Year 72/73: For the first time, there are no nuns on the staff.

Sept 1976: Schools were reorganised to form St Josephs RC First School (138 pupils) for children 4+ to 7+ and St Edward the Confessor Middle School (218 pupils). St Josephs’ classes were identified by colour, Red, Yellow, Orange, Green and Blue. St Edwards was located on Ladbroke Road, in a building previously occupied by St Josephs Secondary school, there were eight classes in four year groups.

25.05.77: St Bedes officially opened.

16.07.84: Agreement reached for St Josephs First School and St Edwards Middle school to be amalgamated on St Josephs’ site.

28.07.85: Work commenced on the new building for the Middle School.

02.09.86: St Josephs First and Middle School opened. There were 392 pupils with capacity for 420. The school was made up of a Lower School (ages 4 to 7) with five classes, Middle School (ages 7 to 10) with six classes and Upper School (ages 10-12) with four classes. Irene Rolston and Marcia Atkinson were Head and Deputy Head respectively.

05.01.88: There were 421 pupils on the roll.

01.02.89: A neighbouring school, St Matthews, was opened.

07.01.92: A second Reception class was formed.

01.09.93: The school became known as St Josephs Catholic Primary School, Redhill. There were 354 pupils aged from 4 to 11 and divided into Key Stage 1 and 2 in accordance with the National Curriculum.

15.05.95: First Key Stage 2 SATS for Year 6.

A series of Firsts, which continue today

Whilst the evolution above took place, the school began to expand its horizons and introduced a number of new ideas to stimulate the children and make learning more interesting. Not all were successful, but many were and continue to this day and play an important part in defining the character of the school.

12.05.59: First trip to Isle of Wight, 54 children went on a day trip, leaving at 9.30 am and returning at 9.30pm. The records note it was a warm and sunny day and of much educational benefit to all. (This is now a week long residential trip)

08.05.69: Individual school photos were taken for the first time.

Sept 1974: Clubs were introduced at St Josephs; French, Guitar, Recorder, Nature and Arts & Crafts.

26.03.77: Friends of St Josephs (FoSJ) held the first Spring Fair, the proceeds going to re-decorating the school exterior.

Sept 1987: FOSJ became known at the St Josephs Association.

07.05.93: The first Yr 6 residential trip took place, to the Isle of Wight

17.07.93: The first school photo of all pupils was taken.

13.12.93: First “old folks” party run by Yr 6.

17.03.94: First Fun Run.

14.02.96: First “Victorian Day” for Yr 6.

13.06.97: First summer concert

Interesting Developments Along The Way

08.10.65: A TV was donated to the school

03.10.66: Mass was celebrated in the school for the first time and continued each Wednesday for many years.

Sept 1969: The school bus arrived, carrying 98 pupils.

Nov 1970: A pupil (who will remain anonymous!) carried an unexploded bomb by train from Nutfield to a history class. The bomb was recognised as being live and safely defused. The local newspaper headline – “Not an apple for teacher but a bomb”.

Sept 1974: The school played its first competitive football match, beating Springvale 7-3.

04.10.76: The inaugural meeting of the Parent Teachers Association, the Friends of St Josephs

11.12.76: FoSJ held its first function, a Bring and Buy.

03.03.83: The school received its first computer.

21.05.83: The school won the Junior Choir section of the Reigate Festival.

19.05.84: A group of children, all U8, won the Challenge Cup for the first time singing at Reigate Festival.

04.06.84: Fluorescent lighting was installed.

16.11.91: Mr Apps joined the school as caretaker.

23.01.96: 5 a side football team won the SE Surrey tournament for the second time in four years.

Finally, there have been 12 head teachers at St Joseph’s (two of these in an acting/temporary capacity) since 1902.

Nov 1902 to Jan 1904 Sr Mary Louis
Jan 1904 to Apr 1930 Mary K McFaul
Apr 1930 to Feb 1942 Mary O'Connor
Feb 1942 to Nov 1944 Margaret O'Keefe
Nov 1944 to Jan 1947 J McKean (acting)
Jan 1947 to Jan 1963 Rosine Mitcalfe
Jan 1963 to July 1974 Patrick Sheehan
Sept 1974 to July 1976 Margaret Atkins
Sept 1976 to July 1993 Irene Rolston
Sept 1993 to Aug 2004 Kathleen Colledge
Sept 2004 to date Elizabeth Walsh

Note – Marcia Atkinson acted as Head Teacher at various times between Sept. 1978 and July 1989 whilst she was Deputy Head Teacher.

The above history has been compiled from a number of interviews and from reading the log books. We are conscious that there will be much not included and welcome contributions from the wider school community, both past and present. Should you wish to provide any information, please forward it to secretary@stjosephs-redhill.surrey.sch.uk. We will do our best to incorporate your contributions in periodic updates to the website.