Your Eminence, Madam Mayor, distinguished guests, welcome to St. Joseph’s.
The foundation stone of our main building marks 1907 as the year the school came to this site. In fact the school started some ten years earlier when the then parish priest invited the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace to cross from France to establish a school for the migrant workers building our town, Hanwell, here within Ealing, Queen of the Suburbs!
Sadly at that time our Catholic school was not welcomed, “No Pope on the rates” was the cry of protestors on the streets of Uxbridge Road. The school was to be closed down on the minor technicality that it lacked toilet facilities, but the parish priest paid for toilets from his personal revenue.
The sisters, all referred to as Miss, not sister as the second Act of Catholic emancipation was still many years away, were refused the grant to pay their salaries to which they were entitled, so being enterprising women they set up a private school in Cuckoo Dene and used the fees to cross subsidise the ragged school.
Eventually one nun, the story goes, wrote to the king as a stamp was not needed when writing to the monarch, the issue was looked into and the nuns got their salaries and, the back pay owed to them, funded the purchase of this site for our school. No grants were available and every penny for the build cost had to be raised by parishioners.
Nowadays St Joseph’s is at the heart of the Hanwell community and our partnership with Ealing Council is strong, productive and provides good challenge and support. The £5.5 million build cost was met entirely from the public purse, the £300,000 of repair work was grant funded to 90% of the cost.
The school campus is impressive and totally fit for purpose for education in the 21st Century. I am sure Your eminence that you have done the maths, an extra form of entry, so I will be coming along to open a new building with seven classes, but Ealing Council is a forward thinking funding agency and has given the scope to do so much more. Expansion was not a given, our governing body was split on whether to proceed, they set a series of red lines which had to be met and each one has been, so forgive my boasting but this project has delivered:
Larger, better equipped playgrounds
Nine new classrooms giving us scope to create:
A dedicated music room, the St Cecilia Salon, and specialist peripatetic teaching base.
A dedicated art room, the St Catherine de Bologna Studio with specialist furniture for 2D and 3D work/
A dance studio, the like of which is unknown in a primary school.
Multi sport surfaces in all playgrounds
An expanded gym hall with age appropriate equipment.
A refurbished infant hall with new loose gym equipment
A new library / learning zone
Latest teaching technology
A food technology base
New heating systems across the school, more eco-friendly and economic to run.
Roofs that are waterproof and safe.
Photovoltaic cells on our hall to generate our own electricity and a grass roof to reduce emissions and promote oxygen creation.
Decent staff facilities taking them from the worst in the deanery to the best and improved administration and welcoming facilities.
A new community room for working with and alongside our parent body.
A new kitchen creating excellent meals to be eaten in a stunning environment with minimal queueing.
Break out areas for the children with outstanding behaviour to chill out in.
Much improved facilities for outdoor learning from nursery to Year Six.
All this in an environment that sings of our ethos and faith from our unique commissioned stained glass windows and statue of St Joseph with the eight year old Jesus, and the window transfers that shout out our values.
Colleague governors, job done!
But we know the gloss paint in the new build will fade, and our latest technology by definition is already overtaken but the faith ethos of our Catholic school is constant, the ambition for each and every child, be they third generation Hanwellians, or the latest wave of migrants, the latest of wave after wave after wave is unshaken, and the partnership of school, parish and parent along with our fantastic Ealing Deanery of primary Schools and our local authority partners ensures the best possible education for all our children.
The expansion to three forms of entry means the bishops promise in 18XX of a Catholic place for every Catholic child is achieved at primary level in Ealing.
I love the story of the man walking along a beach where literally thousands of flat fish had washed up on the shore.
Every so often the man would bend down and throw a fish back into the sea, giving it life once again.
Another man said, “What are you doing, you can’t possibly make a difference to all these thousands of fish?
The first man bent over picked up a fish, threw it back into the sea and said “I made a difference to that one.”
The fantastic staff of St. Joseph’s make a difference every day, every hour every lesson every encounter and I am so proud of them and to the children I say two things, we expect a lot of you because we believe a lot in you, and if a job’s worth doing its worth doing well.”
Thank you Your Eminence for taking the time to be with us today.
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