“Two things strike me when I walk into Edale School, fifteen years after leaving it for Hope Valley College: that old cliché about everything seeming so tiny, and the fact that the soap still smells the same. There are many things that will take me back and make me think more deeply about my own work as a teacher in London.
I attended Edale school between 1994 and 2001 and have many glorious memories of my time here. I remember singing songs every week with Adrian the vicar, doing art and crafts with local artists and residents (the plaques we made to celebrate the millennium can still be seen in the walls of the playground) and roaming the hills with ‘Gordon the Warden’. I remember (word for word) the prayer we used to say at the end of the day, before telling tales on children who had their eyes open when they shouldn’t have. I remember the sheer terror I felt when I heard the roar of the fire-breathing dragon that lived down the steps at the top of the bottom playground. I remember the looks on the faces of the Edale footballers who won Hope Wakes in 2001; a team made up of year 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s who beat Bamford in the final against all the odds. I still benefit from the confidence I gained as a result of being thrust on stage alongside pupils much older than me; pupils who would go on to look out for me when I started HVC, the only girl in a four-pupil cohort from Edale.
It’s been a pleasure for me to get to know some of this new generation of Edalians, with their impeccable manners and innocent fascination and joy for the world that I suppose I and my schoolmates displayed at their age. I am told that ‘ding-a-ling’ is still called at the end of playtime, even though there is now a perfectly functioning bell on the roof. I watch these children run in and out of the summer house and along the bridge, and sit happily drawing at the bench, donated in memory of Clive, and I envy their lively imaginations and creative impulses.
There are lots of new additions to the school since my day; extensions in the form of an office, a library, extra learning areas and higher bars around the playground (no chance now of another child launching themselves onto the wall during a typically enthusiastic game of Tiggy-Off-Ground and finding himself landing on his feet on the other side, before sheepishly walking back through the gate). But it seems to me that the heart and soul of this place remains. This is a school with a local community that is intricately entwined with it and cares deeply about its future. This is a school where the children will thrive and forge lifelong friendships, not just with one another, but with all those others from Edale and beyond who come through its doors. So thank you to the Edale school children for reminding me of the magic of this very special school.”