About our school

History of the School

West Hill School was opened on 12th July 1876 as Ottery St. Mary West Hill Board School. Education was not, at that time compulsory or free. The School Board laid down that fees of 2 pence per week were to be paid by each child and any child not bringing the money in advance was not allowed to attend.

The first school mistress was Mrs. Griffiths who enrolled 49 children during those first few days in July 1876: the youngest, Arthur Madge, was 1 year 10 months. By October 1876 there were 73 scholars on roll. The oldest child was thirteen and at this time Mrs. Griffiths was the only teacher. Later in 1877 Mary Jane George took charge of the school and her daughter, Annie, became Pupil Teacher. By September 1888 there were 103 scholars housed in two rooms in the old building.

The Education Act of 1901 brought about major changes. Local Education Authorities replaced School Boards and West Hill became a Devon County Council School.

From September 1900 there was a steady decline in numbers until, at the beginning of the Second World War, there were 36 on roll plus 16 evacuees. By September 1945 there were only 18 children .

The Education Act of 1944 meant that, for the first time, secondary education was compulsory for all and the leaving age was raised to fifteen. In 1948, the school was re-designated West Hill Junior Mixed and Infants School , where children entered at five years of age and left at eleven.

Over the years overcrowding has been a recurring problem. In November 197l the first temporary classroom was put into use. A second was donated by the PTFA in 1978 and a third was ready for use in October 1978. The Parents’ Teachers’ and Friends’ Association was formed in March 1972 and continues to support the life of the school in many valuable ways.

It was in December 1970 at a Managers’ Meeting that first mention was made of the proposed new school and a site was approved. By 1978 there were 450 houses in West Hill, bringing the population up to 1,800. The need for a purpose built school was becoming an urgent necessity.

In March 1991, after years of persistent negotiation and consultation with Devon County Council by the School Governors, the building of the new school was begun. On 16th December 1991 the main school building was officially ‘handed over’ by the Contractors, Knapp Construction. During the Christmas holidays some 32 parents, governors and members of the school staff and their families worked to get everything ready for the new term. On 8th January 1992 , the school met for the last time at the old premises and ceremonially walked in procession to the new building.

The new school was officially opened on 27th March 1992 by the then retiring Member of Parliament for this constituency, Sir Robin Maxwell Hyslop. The final stage of the building the extension to the Village Hall, which includes changing rooms and storage space was completed in December 1992. By Easter 1995, a spacious conservatory was added, providing an additional useful practical area. This is now a shared area for the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

An additional freestanding Elliott Medway classroom arrived in the Autumn Term 2002, which housed our Reception Class. A second Elliott Medway classroom, together with an office, was added to this building during the Summer of 2003. This did not increase the capacity of the school, but added excellent additional facilities. A lobby to join the two new classrooms to the main school building was added in May 2004. During the Summer holidays of 2006, extensive internal changes took place creating a spacious office with a security hatch for our Administrators, an ICT Suite in the former Class 3, two learning support rooms, areas for a fiction and a non-fiction library, and a new classroom for The Foundation Stage in our former school hall, enabling them to be next to Key Stage 1.

Notes on the history of the school adapted by Jean Hadley from “A History of West Hill County Primary School” by A.T.Robinson. (Unpublished). The fiction and non-fiction library areas were developed further during the 2007-2008 Academic Year. The libraries are now run by our School Librarians in Year 6. Attractive canopies on the two hard-standing play areas provide excellent shelter from all weathers.

In addition, permanent canopies now provide two covered play areas. An extension to the staffroom and refurbishment of the children’s toilets took place in the 2009 Summer holidays and numerous grounds developments have taken place in recent years.

During the 2010 summer holidays, the old oil-fired boiler was replaced with a modern gas alternative. This created additional office and storage space in the old boiler room.