The Rumble Museum at Cheney has been working with Cheney alumni, students and staff on exploring the history of Cheney School. We have designed workshops introducing the history of the school, and produced a set of large exhibition boards (pictured above) detailing its long and fascinating history.
Cheney School's earliest roots stretch all the way to around 1797, when four Sunday Schools were started in Gloucester Green. One of these gradually grew, and went on to move into a purpose built site on New Inn Hall Street in 1901, becoming Oxford Central Girls School. Eventually, in 1959 it moved to the Cheney Lane site and became Cheney Girls Grammar School. However, this is only half the story! In 1934 John Henry Brookes created a junior day department of the Arts and Technical College, based in Church Street near st Ebbe's. This later become Cheney Technical School and moved to Cheney Lane in 1954. The two schools eventually merged in 1972 to become Cheney Comprehensive School.
There are many inspirational students, headteachers and other members of the school community along the way and interesting stories behind both schools. You can watch a short slideshow video here made by the Rumble Museum to document the key events on the school's timeline. It's called "A Tale of Two Schools".
As part of this project, every single Year Nine history student received a workshop exploring the history of the two schools, which incorporated a range of original material, such as old magazines, site plans, prospectuses, O level examination papers, letters between the school and the pupils, and a range of photographs too. The groups were also taken on a tour of the site, where they discovered that the Library and Canteen were the old assembly halls of the Technical and Grammar School respectively. They also viewed the sculptures commissioned by John Brookes to represent the school, which are on the side of one of the old science block buildings, known affectionately as "the Tub". Each workshop was delivered with a third of a pint of milk for each student, as would have been the case at the school during the 1950s!
Student Tatenda Mutero said: "the workshop was very interesting. I liked that they put milk in front of us on the table because in the morning they drank warm milk. I liked that we had a tour of where the assemblies were and where the girls school was. We looked a lot at school photos and which one was the oldest building. It was W block that was the oldest. Also the uniform policy was mainly green and yellow".
Sacha Whitehall commented: "I really enjoyed the workshop and I now respect all the achievements Cheney had got to reach this stage... I found it really interesting how the two sides of the school came together. Also, I never knew that the school was once two different schools, a technical school and a girls grammar school."
On Monday 25th September, Year Nine History students also took a step back in time when they received a visit from Bernard Stone, an Old Boy from the 1950s when Cheney School was "Cheney Technical School". Bernard brought a range of items from his time at Cheney, including a boys' cap, part of the school uniform, as well as examples of wood and metalwork items which he had made while at school. He talked about John Brooke's role in founding what became Cheney Technical School, and how the the curriculum included three main 'streams' for pupils: arts and crafts (which included painting, drawing and fashion), commerce (which included typing and administration) and the technical stream (which included engineering and architecture).