1786, Bisham School for Girls
The earliest records of a school proper were originally thought to have been made in 1876, in the form of a copy of a memo to the staff, however, it is documented that the school had been extended periodically well before this date. The original memo was sought and found in the public records office. It showed that the school had actually been opened in 1786, not 1876!
From 1786 the school started as a school for 20 poor local girls to learn how to sew. Numbers grew and the school began to admit boys and run a more formal program.
In 1830 the school was extended. An 'Infant gallery' was added to the original building, to accommodate younger children. This section was, until recently, the school hall and now serves as an ICT centre and a library.
In 1860 the Headmaster's house was built along with an extension to the Infant Gallery. The house, which is attached to the school is still held in trust for the exclusive use of the headmaster and his family.
In 1894, two new classrooms were added to accommodate the rise in numbers. These two rooms have been remodelled in the recent building works to create two more evenly sized rooms, they remain otherwise unchanged.
The Headmaster during this period is the first that we know of. Mr Atlee and his wife ran the school from 1887 to around the beginning of the first war. They recieved an illuminated address in 1912 from the parents and people of the village to commemorate 25 years at the school. This address still hangs in the school. When he retired, his wife was diagnosed with a rare breathing disorder and was told that the climate in New Zealand would be much better, so they took the long and dangerous journey to settle there.
There were no major building works for several decades. After Mr Atlee retired, the next Headmaster was a Mr Yates, then Mr Jones who was head of the school through the Second World War. Mr Crook followed him for a short while followed by Mr Houghton and in 1957 Mr Rowley took over the School.
1967 saw further extension to the school in the form of a new wing containing two classrooms, toilets and a school kitchen.
Just as Mr Atlee had moved to New Zealand, Mr Cooke moved from New Zealand and took up the Headteacher's post in 1985.
From then numbers rose steadily and another extension was planned, to build a new hall in front of the 1967 extension and another classroom. This was achieved over 2000 and 2001 to give the school a new multipurpose hall, changing rooms for P.E and swimming, new toilets, a staffroom and a proper office.
During the summer of 2003, the old 'West Wing' toilets were refurbished and the two damp(and on occasion flooded!), cold and rather miserable toilets were remodeled and resized to provide two modern toilet areas, better cloakroom space and some badly needed storage space!
Over the autumn and spring terms of 2004 we completed a period of groundworks that have included a new play area- a pirate ship called the River Rat! They also included an adventure trail around the edge of the school field.
In the summer holidays of 2004, a new garden area was designed and realized in the space between the school and the Headmaster's house. Originally this area was the house front garden and with the extension works of 2000 became a muddy wasteland! It is now a beautiful terraced garden with unusual plants, water features and lighting.
The next project we are actively seeking funding for is the area that is loosely referred to as the environmental area - rapidly becoming an overgrown wilderness. We want to change all this and create and area that is useful.
If you have any information, photos or stories about the history of the school we would love to hear from you, please contact Jim Cooke the Headmaster.