Our History

Our school is a co-educational junior school for pupils aged 7 – 11 years old located in South Woodford, London Borough of Redbridge. We have 480 pupils, who are taught in 16 classes from Year 3 to Year 6.

 

Founded in 1874 as Churchfields School, it consisted of two schools, the Boys’ and a combined Girls’ and Infants’ and then later became three schools and then during the inter-war period the Girls’ and Boys’ schools formed to make a mixed Junior School. The Infants’ school is called Churchfields Infants’ School.

1955 Fun in the snow

Celebrating 150 Years

This year, 2024, the school celebrates 150 years. Throughout the year the pupils will take part in events to celebrate the school’s history.

January

  • Assembly to launch birthday celebrations
  • School Birthday Disco organised by PTA for current pupils
  • Pupils receive ‘150 years’ lapel badge gift
  • Pupils draw tea towel portraits for PTA birthday tea towel sale

February

March

  • Victorian Day: dressing up, handwriting, pay a penny to come to school (given as gift), inventions, historical characters, sewing, PE drills

April

  • Time capsule event

May

  • Whole-school photograph

June

July

  • Clay tile by every child and member of staff

August

September

  • Pupils interview former pupils and staff for oral history
  • Circus family day organised by the PTA

October

  • Class activities – flashback stories imagining they went to school in the past and art activity; painting then and now locations in the local area

November

  • Creation and teaching of a school song

December

  • Dickensian Christmas-themed Christmas Fayre organised by the PTA

Churchfields Junior from 1874 to Now

Churchfields School first opened to the children of Woodford, and the surrounding area, on the 5th January 1874. Originally, Churchfields consisted of two Schools – the Boys and a combined Girls’ and Infants’. In the first week, the Girls and Infant’s admitted 36 pupils with spellings, grammar and tables set as homework, and the Boys admitted 63 pupils.

 

Fees of around 1d to 9d a week (equivalent to around £2 a week) were payable until the introduction of free education in 1891. The school’s first government inspection report noted “This school is instructed and ordered with much care and promises to be most efficient. The buildings are excellent.”

 

In 1878, the Infants became a separate department. Churchfields continued in the form of a 3-department school with the leaving age raised to 14 in line with the Education Act 1918.

 

In 1937, it was decided that children over 11 would be transferred to the new South Woodford Secondary School – St Barnabas – now called Woodbridge High School. The Boy’s and Girls’ Departments were amalgamated to form a Junior Mixed School in 1937, the Infants’ retaining their independence except for a short period during the Second World War.

 

You can read much more about the school’s beginnings and its first 100 years here.

The Land and School Buildings

The land on which the Churchfields School was built was part of the Woodford Hall Estate and was offered for sale by auction in 1871. The School Board bought 4 of the 34 plots for a total of £420. The road known now as Churchfields was then called Chelmsford Road East. It is not known why the school was called Churchfields.

 

In 1885 a new Infants’ School was opened. A further 2 plots were bought in 1888.

 

The new Girls’ School was built in 1891 to the north-west of the original building.

 

The Hall was  built in 1908 and shared by the Infants’ and Girls’ School. An area of land had already been bought from A. Lister-Harrison’s family before 1921 when two more sections of field were purchased for playing fields by the Essex Education Committee.

 

Another piece of land, east of the original plots, was bought in 1949 for the construction of the Dining Hall and Canteen – hutted classrooms and the New Hall also stood on this land.

 

The new Infants School was constructed close by and opened in 1974 followed by a nursery school in 1975.

 

Design and construction of a new Junior School building was approved in 2004 and construction delayed until 2009.

 

The old Junior School building was demolished in 2011. The nearby Redbridge Drama Centre is sited in the building that was part of the school.

An Outstanding School

The school was graded Outstanding in its last Ofsted inspection.

 

In 2022, the school was featured as a case study of good practice in The power of music to change lives: a national plan for music education by the Department for Education.

1871

Land to build the school

The Woodford Hall Estate was offered for sale by auction. The School Board bought 4 of the 34 plots.

5 January 1874

Churchfields School opened

Originally two schools – the Boys and a combined Girls’ and Infants’.

1878

The Infants became a separate department

Churchfields continued in the form of a 3-department school.

1885

A new Infants’ School was opened

A further 2 plots were bought in 1888.

1891

New Girls’ School was built

1908

The Hall was built

The Hall was shared by the Infants’ and Girls’ School.

1937

A Junior Mixed school was formed.

The Boy’s and Girls’ Departments were amalgamated.

1949

Land was bought for the construction of the Dining Hall and Canteen

Hutted classrooms and the New Hall also stood on this land.

1974

The new Infants School opened.

A nursery school opened in 1975.

2009

A new Junior School building was constructed

2011

The old Junior School building was demolished

The nearby Redbridge Drama Centre is sited in the building that was part of the school.

2014

The school was graded Outstanding by Ofsted

2022

The school was featured as a case study of good practice by the Department for Education

Pictures from the Past

School Memories

Do you have memories from your time at Churchfields Junior? Please write to us on admin.churchfields-jun@redbridge.gov.uk and we will publish your memories on this page.

I attended 'Churchfields' from around 1937 until 1944. I commenced in Miss Carr's class and finished up in Mr. Potter's - the 'Scholarship Class' - based next to the Headmaster's study. The Headmaster at the time was Mr. Walford and he would frequently pop in to put us through our paces, particularly in respect of 'mental arithmetic' as it was known as! As it happened the girl who, years later, was to become my wife was in that same class and we had over sixty five years of happy marriage. Other teachers that I recall were Miss Phillips, Miss Lewis, Miss Forbes and Mrs. Heath although I was not in all of those classes. Lessons in the shelters during air raids were part of the routine. The school playing fields were dug up and turned into allotments as part of the 'war effort'.

David Wilkinson

I shared your website with my Dad, Alan Beagley and my Mum Diane Josey who met at CFS! (Over the dividing wall!) My mum's mother was Margaret Moore, and she taught music. She took a group of kids to Bury St Edmunds during the blitz to escape the bombings! Here is a note from my dad: "There is one photo of some lads sitting holding a shield. 4 of them were my friends including Paul Simonds on the right at the back wearing a pullover as he was the goalie and Peter Gillet has the shield between his knees I spent lots of fun days with them. Paul went to Australia and disappeared and I bumped into Peter in Oxford Street many years later"

Su Beagley, Alan Beagley

Every time I hear Percy Grainger’s famous Country Gardens my mind goes back to the early fifties and assemblies at Churchfields Infants’, which always ended with Miss Carr thumping it out on the piano as we trooped back to our classrooms. The ancient Miss Carr had started as a pupil-teacher way back in 1918. Another vivid memory of infant assemblies is of the wonderful headmistress, Miss Bradford, walking between the lines as we sang, to pick out the best voices. I was proud to be one of those chosen and sent to the front, but what followed I can’t recall! However, I do remember the first Christmas and Miss Chalk teaching us “Snowy flakes are falling softly, clothing all the world in white” to the tune of the carol “Infant holy, Infant lowly”. Miss Chalk’s classroom was heated by an open coal fire and the chimney is still visible on the now Redbridge Drama Centre, on the west side of the building with the narrow pathway (from which departing parents would wave through the window to their smiling or occasionally tearful offspring each morning). From Miss Chalk I progressed to Miss Cole and thence Miss Harrison (who later became head of Chingford Infants’), but for the whole of my second year I had the fearsomely strict Mrs Hocking. One day she had to take over as acting head because Miss Bradford suffered a car accident driving to school. We were all very impressed to learn that Miss Bradford used to drive every day to Churchfields from Southend, for was not that the seaside and the distant destination of buses and coaches seen at Gates Corner disappearing down the slope of the aptly named Southend Road, often packed to the gunnels at weekends! A bright moment in my final term of the Infants’ was having a day off for the Coronation, 2nd June 1953. A little later Mrs Hocking was delighted when someone’s dinner money included a brand new shiny Elizabeth II coin. A week of school dinners, by the way, cost 2/11, that is 7d a day (about 3p). Shortly after the Coronation the whole school was taken on foot to see the film of the conquest of Everest and thus Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing became our heroes. Assemblies in the Junior school were infrequent until the enlightened Mr VH Williams arrived, following the retirement in 1955 of the frightening, cane-wielding, glass-eyed Mr ER Walford, headmaster for 30 years. Rousing hymns like “And did those feet” (Jerusalem) and “Mine eyes have seen the glory” (John Brown’s body) were sung – and accompanied – with gusto. There was no nonsense about changing (dumbing down) the words, lest they be not understood; and indeed Hymns for Use in Schools served us well, not only at Churchfields but thereafter throughout secondary schooling. Class music in the Juniors’ consisted mostly of occasional singing, but the school was fortunate in having the kindly and inspiring Miss Phillips (later Mrs Harding) who ran a fine choir with a reputation for successes in both the Woodford and Stratford Music Festivals. We won first place with The Dream-seller by Markham Lee, singing from memory in the nearby Woodford Memorial Hall. Miss Phillips was an experienced choral singer and I remain grateful that some of her tips to us young singers I continue to find useful in my own work with choirs. A few final memories... Class sizes were enormous, with the ‘post war bulge’ taking the blame. I managed to stay in the A stream (as did my sister and two of my three brothers, all older), but I did not shine, being placed one year, for example, 49th out of 62 in the class. The toilets were across the playground and would occasionally freeze in the winter. School meals had to be taken in the Infants’ hall until a decent-sized canteen was at last opened in about 1955, down a path to near where the current school building stands. It was in the canteen that I recall us gathering to hear a special guest, namely Enid Blyton, who encouraged us all to become ‘Busy Bees’.

Terence Atkins

School Reunion in June

Saturday 8 June

Tour of the schools and reunion for past pupils, staff, governors and parents.

Please visit this link to sign-up to the event.