Former pupils and teachers shared memories and reminisced over photos as Loders celebrated 150 years of its village school.

As well as an opportunity to catch up with classmates, remember colleagues and teachers and generally look back at their time at the school, visitors could also delve deep into the rich history of the academy.

Events were held last week, which included a service of thanksgiving at St Mary’s Church in Loders, an exhibition of school history in the village hall, with class photos over the years, record books and information, a visit to the school and the unveiling of a plaque.

The opening of the school was reported in the Bridport News on October 15, 1869, commenting that ‘the little village of Loders was the scene of much public festivity’.

Former pupil Helen Doble, was Crabb, started at the school in 1966 when Mrs Niven was the headteacher.

She said: “We had proper desks still, I’m not sure if they were the originals from when the school opened, but they had ink wells.

“We only ever played in the walled playground and eventually, in the late 60s, they knocked through the wall and required the field below.

“The May Queen started in our time, Mr Price started the May Queen and she was always voted for by the pupils, it had to be a girl that was leaving comprehensive school and still today I believe it is still the case.

“When I was there, the third classroom was mostly used for our lunches which were brought in every day - blancmange, liver and onions and that sort of thing.

“After lunch we would play in the playground, playing things like British bulldog, skipping was quite popular, some of my fellow pupils were good at high jump, I know my cousin was.”

Yvonne Norman taught at the school for 26 years from 1971 and deputy head for the last nine. The building only consisted of three classrooms, cloakroom facilities and a small area with a sink and oven to keep the delivered school meals warm. The classrooms were used for assemblies and as a dining hall as at that stage there were no hall or office facilities.

Looking back at some of the changes to the building, she said: “There wasn’t a corridor you could go into classrooms from, therefore, any visitors that came to the school and wanted to see the head had to go through the classes to the head’s class - it was very intimate.”

Christine Prideaux mentioned in the church service that Mrs Norman had suggested at a governors meeting that extra space could be gained in school by utilising the indoor height of the building to add an extra floor. So, some years later the staff were delighted to have a staircase put in to gain another classroom and office upstairs. Also, there was a short corridor so that visitors no longer had to walk through classrooms. This made life so much easier for everyone as it created three classrooms, an office, a work room and a staircase.

Mrs Norman added: “The buildings are less important than the children, staff and learning experiences within. The atmosphere was always relaxed and happy with the intention of providing a broad, positive and motivating education across all subjects. This often involved taking the classes out in to the village or further afield to enhance their lessons.”

Mrs Norman worked with two headteachers - Mr Price in the early years followed by Mr Kite until retirement and with the teachers of the early years – Mrs Niven, Mrs Wright and Miss Pritchard.

Talking about her memories as a teacher there, she said: “During one of our harvest festivals, there was a fire in the chimney in one of the classrooms, so we had the fire engine come to sort that out and we took everything outside and did the harvest festival in the playground.

“We worked together as a team covering all the basic subjects in, hopefully, an interesting and creative way whilst encouraging the children to be independent.

“I used to do something called problem solving and the children would camp for the weekend on the school field. They used to be in groups, say the theme they wanted and actually plan the activities for the weekend themselves.

“It was, for me, the best method for teaching seven to nine-year-olds as they organised the weekend by each group presenting their ideas for discussion before making decisions - it involved lots of Maths, English and teamwork. I went on an OU course in the early 1980s and thought the problem-solving ideas they had were a perfect incentive to stretch children's abilities. I think they loved it too."

“Loders was a happy school which I can see has retained its ethos today with the added advantage of the wonderful facilities the school has now.”

Also, during the 150th celebrations she added how impressed she was with how well the current pupils presented their school and spoke in the church service.