It’s the End of an Era at Holy Trinity Primary School: “Goodbye Mrs Johns”

As an ex-Governor and ex-parent at Holy Trinity Primary School it was wonderful to be invited back for ‘a bit of a do’ last month to say Farewell to Jane Johns, who has taught at the school since it first opened in September 1993 and Head Teacher for the last 17 years.

Jane can remember vividly the first day of the new school opening.  She arrived as a teacher at the new school, the first to open in Bradley Stoke, with her two sons in tow (see photo below). Tom was starting in Reception and David had transferred from a different primary to start in Year 3.  The school opened with 107 pupils; a full reception class, a mixed year 1 and 2 class and one class of years 3, 4, 5 and 6.  Jane recalls that there were just two year 6 pupils initially.  However, the much awaited school grew rapidly and by the end of its first year the junior class had split into a Year 3/4 class and a Year 5/6 class.

Holy Trinity Primary School was the vision of the local vicar of that time, Reverend Colin Blake, and his wife Katy. The couple campaigned long and hard until eventually Avon County Council agreed to build the very first school in the still relatively new development of Bradley Stoke. The vision was to create a unique and distinctive Christian school with close links to the church. Jane recalls that there was lots of unhappiness and unease locally about the Christian nature of the school at first.  In reality however, there were very few church families at the school when it first opened and its reputation for ‘having to go to the church to get into the school’ was quickly dispelled.

Jane took over the role of Acting Head from January 2000 until being granted the substantive post for the start of the new school year in September 2000.  All of her best memories concern the children she has had the pleasure of getting to know throughout their primary years.  “I especially love it when former students come back and tell you about their lives – it gives me a real lift” she told me.  “We have lots of successes, a doctor, another who works for the Home Office, a number who have gone on to be teachers themselves – it’s lovely to hear what each has achieved”.

“There have obviously been many changes in education and ways of teaching numeracy and literature (Maths and English to those of us above a certain age!) since I first qualified back in 1978. But honestly what goes around comes around and methods used in the 1970s have come back around again with more of an emphasis on Grammar and the 3Rs again”.

Jane also talked about the challenges of bringing up children in a multi-racial and multi-cultural society, which Bradley Stoke is and growing more so.  “We teach children to get on with each other and how every child is a reflection of God’s love, irrespective of their background or faith.”

“It’s often been remarked upon that there is something really special about the atmosphere at Holy Trinity and we hope that our children will take that away with them, to know that they are special and can achieve whatever they want to, as long as they try.  We’ve had pupils with us who have faced great challenges and we have done our utmost to help them along the way.”

One of Jane’s proudest moments (when put on the spot by me) was during the 20th Birthday Celebrations held in May 2014 (20 years after the official opening held in May 1994).  There was a whole week of celebrations at the school and a special worship assembly hosted by the Bishop of Bristol.  The children decided that they wanted to raise money for a fellow pupil who had been diagnosed with leukaemia. Jane told me “So many families were involved and I felt really, really proud of the caring community we had created here at Holy Trinity”

Having had her 60th birthday earlier this year, Jane feels the time is right for her to move on…

“It’s very exciting” she told me.  “I’ve been here so long, my life is going to change completely – I’m not sure what it’s going to be like!  I’m going to miss the children so much and have been storing up memories over the last year to keep me going!  I’m also going to miss all the great friends and colleagues at school – we have had a lot of fun over the years. I have a holiday booked in September, out of term time, for the first time EVER and I cannot wait!”  

As a trained OFSTED Inspector Jane will not be leaving education entirely, and she is also hoping to training in SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools).  She feels she has much insight to offer on how to achieve improvement in schools.

I know we speak for many when we say a huge Thank You to Mrs Johns for all her dedication and hard work at Holy Trinity Primary over the last 24 years.  We wish you a very long and happy retirement.

This article appeared in the latest Little Stoke Gifford Matters.

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