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Our History

 
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We are very proud of our history of Catholic comprehensive education and keenly looking forward to celebrating our 50th Anniversary in 2014. Our motto has always been Sub tuo praesidio ( Latin for Under your protection).
 
Early years: 1964–1972
​Canon Charles J Murray, Governor and parish priest of the Yeadon parish, negotiated with the West Riding County Council and Department of Education and Science for forward planning of the school and had by 1960 secured a site. In October 1960, it was announced that a school would be built in the 1962-3 building programme, and the governors invited Weightman & Bullen, to prepare plans for a three-form entry secondary school. At that time no more than 75 boys and girls per year were expected so the plans were for a building for 360 pupils in the initial contract, with provision for extension to 450. West Riding County Council acquired 13 acres (53,000 m2) of land from the Regional Hospital Board and work started on the site in July 1962. The building was built on a concrete frame and clad in heather-coloured facing bricks to blend with the supporting moorland.

The original buildings, to which pupils were admitted in November 1964, were officially blessed and opened by the Rt. Rev. Mgr. George Patrick Dwyer, Bishop of Leeds on 3 July 1965.  The first chairman of governors, who presided was the Rt. Rev. Mgr. E. Malone.
 
The opening of St. Mary's was front page news in the Catholic Herald. In the article, Bishop Dwyer came out in full support of the Catholic school system. Ss Peter and Paul, Yeadon was opened on the same day as St. Mary's. St. Mary's opening led to a reorganisation of Catholic schools in the area, as they became primary schools.
 
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 Bishop backs Catholic Schools, 9 July 1965 [CATHOLIC HERALD ARCHIVE]
 
Subjects available in 1965 included:
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • French
  • Art and Craft
  • Woodwork
  • Metalwork
  • Technical Drawing
  • Housecraft
  • Needlework
  • Physical Education
The Morse building (named after  Saint Henry Morse,  one of the  Catholic Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) can be seen as the school is approached from the main road. The three units comprised the hall, small hall, Chapel, and gymnasium, a three storey academic and administrative block and practical areas. The total cost was £185,000 of which the Local Authority contributed £39,000. The Chapel, financed without grant aid, cost a further £9,000.

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PHOTO: INTERIOR OF OUR CHAPEL, 1965
 
In September 1965 there were 200 pupils and 15 staff.Throughout the 1960s the Diocesan Schools Commission and the West Riding County Council recognised that the only sound future for the school would be as part of a comprehensive system, and to provide a sufficient range of facilities it would have to grow.
 
Expansion: 1973–1979
St. Mary's is well placed for transport and the catchment area was enlarged. The school became five-form entry with an age range of 11 to 18 years, and the first all-ability intake started in 1973. This required further buildings and a contract was signed in January 1972 for a further 674 sq. m. two-storey block which was completed for the increased intake. This cost £60,000 of which the LEA contributed £6,000. Further plans were made to accommodate the annual build·up of pupils. An increase in specialist teaching rooms was required, and as the original building had only one or two for each subject it was impossible to create integrated departments without remodelling many older rooms for a changed use. This created problems for the builders and the school, as teaching had to continue throughout the construction. In October 1973, work on a new contract costing £442,000 began and continued until October 1975. The LEA's contribution was £132,000. It included extensions to the library, staff and administrative rooms, added a further 1,905 sq. m. and accommodated more than 350 extra pupils. The 1962 site was now too small and more land was acquired. The playing fields covered 16 acres (65,000 m2) in addition to land occupied by buildings and paved areas. Construction on the sixth form centre, the Clitherow Building (named after  Saint Margaret Clitherow) started in May 1978 and provided another 676 sq. m. at a cost of £117,000. It provided classrooms, seminar rooms, a common room and two laboratories. The school was fully comprehensive from September 1979, with a five/six form entry, varying from 150 to 180 per year and 950 pupils on roll. There were 50 members of staff. 14 subjects were offered to the Sixth Form. The Clitherow Building was blessed by the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend William Gordon Wheeler in November 1979.
 
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PHOTO: CRAFT ROOM, 1979
 
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PHOTO: MUSIC LESSON, 1979

 
Hume Building: 1980–2001

The school celebrated its silver anniversary (25 years) in 1989 with a special Mass. In June 1993, the choir of St. Mary's appeared in   Black Daisies for the Bride, a BBC 2 television film written by Tony Harrison for National Alzeheimer's Week, filmed in High Royds Hospital, Menston. Miss Murray led St. Mary's first Lourdes Pilgrimage with the Leeds Diocese in 1993. St. Mary's became a Sports College specialist school in 2000.
 
The opening of the Hume building (named after Cardinal Basil Hume) by The Bishop of Leeds, David Konstant took place in February 2001. Jack Lunn Construction constructed a three storey, steel-framed extenstion that allowed St. Mary's to take 1,100 pupils. The project took 14 months to complete and cost £1.7 million.The building has a traditional brick-and-block facade, concrete floors and a flat roof. The artist Kate McCrickard, a former pupil, was commissioned to paint pieces for the new chapel.

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PHOTO: BISHOP OF LEEDS, DAVID KONSTANT OFFICALLY OPENS HUME BUILDING IN FEBRUARY 2001

2002–2012
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PHOTOS: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS, MAY 2003

In 2003, the school was awarded £792,000 to extend its inter-school sports partnership. St. Mary's achieved Artsmark Silver in 2004. The school marked its 40th anniversary in October 2004 with a whole school photograph of pupils and staff.
 

PHOTO: WHOLE SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH, OCTOBER 2004
 
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PHOTO: BISHOP ARTHUR ROCHE VISITED ST. MARY'S ON OUR YEAR 11 AWARDS EVENING, NOVEMBER 23 2004

February 2005 saw a week long visit by eight Chinese students and two staff from  ShiXi High School in Shanghai. In 2006 a  stained glass artwork of a dove was created in the Chapel. In 2006, Assistant Headteacher David Geldart established the Bambisanani Partnership with Mnyakanya High School in Kwa Zulu Natal. New entrances for both visitors and pupils opened in September 2008, as well as the canopy in the covered area. 

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PHOTO: CONSTRUCTION WORK, OUR COVERED AREA, JULY 2008

In 2009, St. Mary's received the International School Award presented by BBC newsreader George Alagiah. During our International week, there was the first visit by 14 Mnyakanya pupils to the UK.  During the visit, Mnyakanya students worked with St. Mary's students on a mural (which can be found in our covered area) to celebrate international co-operation.
 
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PHOTO: MURAL CREATED IN JULY 2009 SYMBOLISING INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION
 
March 2011 saw the opening of our floodlit Artificial Turf Pitch. It was blessed by Father Tom O'Connor and opened by Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association's director of football development. The pitch was part of a £750,000 investment in sport at the school which also saw all remaining grass pitches drained. The project was part funded by a £325,000 grant from the Football Foundation.
 
Robert Pritchard was appointed as headteacher in April 2011, taking over from Catherine McMahon.
In May 2011, a team from St. Mary's were the overall winners of the Geography Association's 2011 Blancathra Worldwise Challenge trophy. The school was one of the first to achieve the Naace  ICT Mark in June 2011 and was awarded  Youth Sport Trust Gold Partner School status in March 2012. Our school's eight values, established in 2012 are based on the Beatitudes. In September 2012, St. Mary's were redesignated as an  International School.
 
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PHOTO: VIEW OF SCHOOL SITE, SHOWING HIGH ROYDS, JULY 2012
 
Academy: 2012-Present
In March 2012, plans were announced for Catholic schools across the  Leeds Diocese to investigate teaming up to form trust academies that would no longer be under local authority control. The Governing Bodies of St. Mary's and four other schools considered a proposal of converting to Academy status in 2013 and forming together a  Catholic Multi-Academy Trust (CMAT). A consultation period  considering Catholic Multi-Academy Trust took place between September and October 2012.The academy conversion  took place on March 1, 2013. St. Mary's is part of  the Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust. The Trust is named after  Bishop William Wheeler, the Bishop of Leeds from 1966–1985. 

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IMAGE: BISHOP WHEELER'S EPISCOPAL COAT OF ARMS IS THE LOGO FOR OUR ACADEMY TRUST

Mr T Rothwell and Miss C Garrett took over from Mr Pritchard as Acting Headteachers in April 2013.

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PHOTO: PUPILS FROM EACH OF OUR 5 FEEDER PRIMARY SCHOOLS WITH ST. MARY'S PUPILS AT THE DEANERY DAY, LEEDS TRINITY UNIVERSITY CHAPEL, 27 JUNE 2013


On November 22 2013, St. Mary’s students Kavi Appuhamy and Chloe Tindale met HRH Prince William as representatives of the Bambisanani Partnership, at a Diana Award ‘Inspire Day’ in South Shields. In February 2014, St. Mary's became the fifth school in the country to become part of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport.

Headteachers
St. Mary's has had four (permanent) headteachers in its near 50 year history:
  • Mr John Dalton (1964–1987)
  • Mr Tony Duffin (1987–1997)
  • Mr M Pyle (1997–2009)
  • Mrs C McMahon (Acting Headteacher) (2010–2011)
  • Mr R Pritchard BSc (Hons) LTh (2011–2013)
  • Mr T Rothwell and Mrs C Garrett (Acting Headteachers) (April 2013–)
Wikipedia
 
Find out more about our history and further links in the Wikipedia articles on


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