The oldest school in Swindon celebrated its 150th birthday by inviting past and present pupils and staff to look around. 

King William Street Primary School opened its doors at the weekend, with pupils chatting with visitors about their learning while giving them a tour.

Alumni from the 1960s marvelled at the changes made to the school, from the internal building alterations to mixed playgrounds which used to be segregated by gender. 

But they observed that the school’s core values of respect and inclusiveness are much the same as they were decades ago.

Cheryl Heyne, who attended the school between 1961 and 1964, said: “I liked going to school and this school helped shape my attitude to life.

“What I loved was the fact that it was all inclusive, even 55 years ago. It didn’t matter who you were, the teachers treated everybody exactly the same.

“We had respect for teachers and they had respect for us. It’s even written all over the school now.”

The 67-year-old was at the school when it celebrated its centenary and she remembers spending the day as a Victorian. 

She added: “We’ve just had two 10-year-olds take us round and the explanations they gave us were absolutely cracking. They are so intelligent, and the books they’re reading are amazing.

“Everything that the teachers taught me here was far beyond what our year was learning at the time.”

Ann Pratt, who joined the school in 1967, reminisced with her sister Jane Lincoln and with another former pupil Sara Hargreaves-Brown about their favourite teachers and swimming trips.

Ann, 61, said: “I used to have a bad stutter and one of the teachers helped me with it.”

This Is Wiltshire: Ann Pratt (left) and sister Jane Lincoln (right)Ann Pratt (left) and sister Jane Lincoln (right)

Year 6 pupil Evie, 10, who showed visitors round the school, said: “I really like how I know everyone here and it’s not too big and it’s not too small.”

Ted, also in Year 6, added: “I like that the respect values are high. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are accepted.”

The school has also been teaching children about key Swindon events. Zebra class learnt about the tram disaster of 1906 while Tiger class were taught about the opening of the Wyvern Theatre

The school had a celebratory birthday lunch in the playground on Friday with cake.
Headteacher Margaret Clarke said: “So many people came along on Saturday; old school friends and colleagues who hadn’t seen each other for years.”