FROM COPPICE LANE TO THE THORNS:THE SCHOOLS

      Quarry Bank Boys' Secondary School was opened in October 1932 in Coppice Lane with 287 on roll under the authority of South West Staffordshire Divisional Executive. Alderman J. O. Whitehouse, Chairman of the Education Committee, officially opened the school in March 1933, along with the Girls' School, sited on the opposite side of the road.

      The headmaster was Mr. I. Badger until 1938 when Mr. W. Jeavons took over.

      At the outbreak of war the school was closed for 'National Emergency' from 4th-26th September 1939. And a national holiday was given on the 8th & 9th May when the war in Europe had finally ended. Each year, during the second half of September the school was closed for hop picking.

      Mr. Jeavons remained headmaster until May 1963 when Mr. J. J. Martin was appointed.

      In 1966 Dudley County Borough assumed responsibility for the school and in 1969 the boys' and girls' schools merged and became Quarry Bank Secondary Mixed School, with 361 pupils on roll. Miss Sturman, head of the girls' school, was appointed as head of the newly opened Thorns Primary, and Mr Martin assumed responsibility for the amalgamated schools in Coppice Lane. The new intake was co-educational as was the 5th year but the years in between continued to be taught separately until those pupils had passed through the system.

      The compulsory leaving age changed from 15 to 16, although some students had already elected to stay on at school for an extra year.

      The site of the present Thorns Community College, (previously opencast coal and clay mines, plus land belonging to Mousehall Farm) had already been earmarked for a school. Murphys agreed to extract 5000 tons of coal and level the land prior to the building programme. In September 1973 at the completion of Phase 1 (the Annex), the first students were moved down to the site. The transition was escalated when a fire extensively damaged the school building on June 6th 1974. The arsonists was apprehended and gaoled for the offence!

      The new school was to take the place of four senior schools: Brierley Hill Boys, Brockmoor Girls, and the two from Coppice Lane. Pupils were taught at both sites until 1977 when the Coppice Lane Boys School, having suffered another fire was finally closed. Working out the timetable was a logistic nightmare, having the two sites over a mile apart. By this time the school had become comprehensive and was renamed Thorns School, having by now grown to include the Main Block, and 10 mobile classrooms as well as the Annex.

      By 1980 the political climate had changed, funding for schools was different and when Mr F. Marshall took over the headship in 1981 community colleges were just beginning to be part of the educational system. A Sports, Leisure & Arts Block was completed and in April 1983 Thorns obtained Community College designation; the students now numbering 999.

      A youth club was introduced as the first community project (under the Sports Council). A Senior Citizens Club was opened - still going strong after 17 years. The site was a dual use centre run jointly by the school and Leisure Services. There were teething troubles and a turbulent period followed as the school expanded both as a school and a leisure facility.

      Mr. Marshall left in 1985 due to ill health, and for a time Ian Cleland was acting head, followed by John Thompson. Pat Wakefield continued the good work until John Thompson was formerly appointed to the post. John's dream of a unified management was finally realised in 1996. There have been many extensions; the opening of the Science and Mathematics Block in 1986, and in 1991, Phase 5 Extension (English, Modern Languages, and the new reception area).

      Following secondary school reorganisation with 11 year old students in school, 1200 pupils were on roll.

      In 1998 the new Post 16 Centre opened in conjunction with Stourbridge College. Thorns is now a far cry from its' beginnings and is multi-purposed, having besides the school: leisure centre, bar, adult education, letting facilities, and networking inside Thorns and the local community. Simon Biggs, as Community Manager has the arduous task of pulling all these strands together. Having previously worked as teacher, then leaving Thorns to go on secondment to Warwick University to do an Advanced Diploma in Community Education and later doing his Masters in Community Education he is best placed to do the job.

     

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     ©  M.P.L.H.G.  2012