Pupils and teachers past and present say farewell to Govilon school

LAST DAY: Govilon Primary School pupils

LAST DAY: Govilon Primary School pupils

First published in News Free Press Series: Photograph of the Author by

THREE former teachers paid tribute to a village school which is to close for the final time today.

Margaret Moss, Mary Owen and Hilette Esau, who were much-loved teachers at Govilon Primary School, joined more than 40 past and present staff and pupils in the hall to share memories and old photographs on Wednesday.

Inside the school hall, which was filled with memorabilia and photographs, the remaining 21 pupils took part in an emotional assembly, singing several hymns including Peace a Flowing River and From Heaven You Came/ The Servant King.

Mrs Moss, first taught at Govilon School in 1964 when it was a Victorian building in School Lane.

She then helped move the pupils to its current building in The Avenue in 1970 and was joined by Mrs Owen and Mrs Esau. The trio taught there for more than 50 years between them.

"When it first moved to its current site there were more pupils than space," recalled Mrs Owen, of Govilon.

"They brought in a de-mountable and I remember one day when a boy hid underneath it and we were frantically trying to find him and he wouldn’t come out," she added.

"It was a very happy and thriving school and it will be very sad to see it close," said Mrs Owen who retired in 1998.

Mrs Esau said it was a lovely community in which her former pupils would later enrol their children and be taught by her.

"To see it now and what is happening is a great shame," she added.

Parent Alice McCormick, of Gilwern Hill, said her three children gained a lot from being in a small community school.

"My daughters Hannah, 12, and Martha, 15 who are former pupils and Mary, 11, who is still at the school, gained a very solid start to life and learned about camaraderie and loyalty," said Mrs McCormick.

"The school has been very good for them. It’s such a pity to lose it," she added.

Chair of governors, Christine Walby paid tribute to everyone who has been associated with the school, including Govilon Primary School Action Group which campaigned to keep the school open.

No repeat of eleventh-hour reprieve

The decisions to close the school was announced on July 1 by the Assembly’s education minister, Leighton Andrews, after Monmouthshire council earmarked it for closure to combat 400 surplus places.

It was saved from closure in 2002 during the council’s strategic review of primary education provision in the county.

It was among 11 schools facing closure but won a reprieve in the eleventh hour.

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