…Making sure things add up…
The door to Trimley St. Martin School.
Way back in April this year Trimley St. Martin held its Annual Parish Meeting. Not to be confused with the Parish Council Meetings, this event proved to be an excellent source of information[i] as it filled in some knowledge gaps and introduced me to more of the people who help make things tick in our Village. One of the people I met was Lorna Adamson. Brought up in Trimley St. Martin during the middle years of the Twentieth Century she now lives again in her childhood home which she shares, house and garden, with two elegant cats. This of course was not information immediately on display when she gave her talk at the Parish Meeting when her focus was on Trimley St. Martin School, of which she is a Governor. It was primarily her Governor’s role which had an initial appeal but unsurprisingly, there is far more to her than this responsibility. How had she come to assume her educational duties, I wondered? The answer rests in her own adult education and what follows describes how it came about.
Both Lorna’s parents were teachers and her father, Walter Adamson, was the Chemistry Teacher at Felixstowe Grammar School for many years. Educational conversations were a frequent occurrence for Lorna from her early years and although she didn’t move into Teaching herself, the nuances and concerns were well known to her. After leaving school, Lorna took an H.N.D.[ii] in Business Studies and worked for a short time as a Secretary before becoming a Civil Servant in The Department for Economic Affairs[iii], a central government office created by Harold Wilson. The final Head of the Department was Peter Shore and after the demise of the Department, Lorna became involved in Private Office work.
Talking to Lorna, I couldn’t help but think this was an interesting period to be working for and alongside Central Government, although she was not in any way involved in legislative work. Long neglected names popped into the conversation and although I was hard pressed to remember exactly what these people did, talking about the move from the D.E.A. reminded me of the work of Harold Wilson’s Government. From 1964 to 1970, his government was marked by liberal reforms. It was responsible for the Murder Act of 1965, whereby Capital Punishment was abolished[iv], the introduction of The Race Relations Act[v] and the introduction of The Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act[vi] of 1970. All three of these have resonances for us today although I suspect many of us have forgotten exactly when they were implemented. Even had Lorna been involved in such matters, which she wasn’t, signing the Official Secrets Act would have forbidden any revelations.
Following the demise of the D.E.A., Lorna worked as a Diary Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Planning under Antony Crossland[vii]. Then, following the 1970 General Election, the Wilson government was replaced by the Conservatives under Ted Heath but Lorna continued her career as a Civil Servant working in the Central Office for Statistics[viii] where her work looked at various aspects of Gross Domestic Products.
Lorna was working with statistics by daytime but during her tenure at C.O.S. she turned her attention to a course of night time study at North London Polytechnic, which resulted in a degree in Applied Economics and Labour Studies. In 1985 Lorna was ‘loaned’ to The Treasury, working in the area of Economics and Statistics; this has now metamorphosed into the Office of Budget Responsibility[ix]. After about four years Lorna moved to another part of the Treasury and at the same time decided to study for a B.Sc. with the Open University.
As I write this, I am struck by how the actions of Central Government have influenced Lorna not only in her working life but also in her learning life. The Wilson Government introduced previously mentioned liberal reforms but there was an additional effect it had on her: the introduction of The Open University. The foundation of this accessible University was the brainchild of Harold Wilson and pre-dated his time as Prime Minister. It was passionately supported and promoted by Jennie Lee and Wilson’s Education Secretary, Edward Shore. The existence of the Open University has enabled thousands of people have to develop their educational and career interests. Lorna was no exception and her successful graduation ceremony took place in the UNESCO building[x] in Paris. She arrived there in style via her first Eurostar train journey and it seems the perfect way to celebrate such an achievement.
For much of her working life, Lorna lived in Crouch End in North London, with many urban pleasures at her command but just before and after her retirement, two things happened. As a responsible daughter, from 2007 onwards she began to spend more time in Trimley as her aging father’s health began to deteriorate, managing his needs and the huge garden which had been his enthusiasm for many years. The garden is something of a revelation as there is more than half an acre of land which now backs onto St Martin’s Green. It is situated on the fields farmed by John Cockle at the time of the 1807 Enclosure Act and such is its length, it seems to stretch on for ever as if straining to be reconnected with the earlier ploughed fields of St. Martin’s Green.
The second significant event involved a further course of study with the O.U. pursuing a Master’s Degree in the Social Sciences. It was this which indirectly led to Lorna’s involvement with Trimley St. Martin School. In 2009, A message was sent to Students asking if they would be interested in becoming Local Authority School Governors and this appealed to Lorna who knew she would be doing something of use and value. Trimley St. Martin’s school had a vacancy for Governors, Lorna applied and has been a Governor with the school for approximately ten years, although she is now a Community Governor. During her time in office, she has worked with three successive Head Teachers: Peter Lamb, who retired in 2013; Paul Stock, who moved to Rushmere in 2016 and the current Head, Samantha Ross. Her current role is as Vice Chair for the Governing body, although this is by no means the limit of her responsibilities[xi]. She also has a responsibility for the Arts and Crafts component of the Curriculum as well as the Year 3 Class.
Trimley St. Martin School plaque declaring the school opened in 1875
There have always been people external to the School who have involved themselves with its management and delivery of the Curriculum from the time of the School’s foundation. When the Infant School opened on 4th October 1875, you can read in the School Log Book of the many visits from St. Martin’s incumbent, the Reverend Thomas Palmer. His name peppers the pages of the School Log Book[xii] as well others such as local benefactor, Mary Dains. With the introduction of County Councils in the eighteen eighties, the onus for good management shifted to East Suffolk County Council in 1888. Modern Governorship opened up as a result of the 1986 Education Act, introduced by the then Secretary of State for Education, Kenneth Baker. In October 1986, he said,
“Our Education Bill radically changes the composition of school governing bodies, It gives these bodies new powers and responsibilities.”
It was these changes which led to the introduction of more lay people into school governance, of which Lorna is now part. Her description of the Governor’s role is expressed as:
“Turning to the Governors, our role is to support the Headteacher and the staff. The Governing body comprises the Chair of Governors who is a parent governor, The Head Teacher, The Vice Chair…In addition there are six further parent governors, a Local Authority Governor, (which is how I started) a teaching staff governor, a Community Governor and two co-opted staff governors. The phrase ’Critical friend’ is often used to describe our role….”.
As a Governor, Lorna has a comprehensive view of the school and its requirements. When we talked in August, the school roll stood at 207 children, with a maximum capacity for 210. Compare this against the number of children admitted when the Infant School opened in 1875; a mere twenty eight boys and fourteen girls. Even allowing for the building extensions to the rear of the school, it is clear the nineteenth century building is working hard to accommodate students of the twenty first century. It seems inevitable that change is coming. In 2017, the Government’s Pupil Projection model[xiii] noted primary school pupil numbers in 2009 to be 4.58 million and anticipated stabilisation at 4.66 million by 2019. Even allowing for population stabilisation, capacity would appear to be something of a concern for the future of the school. The Final Local Plan[xiv] (for East Suffolk, formerly known as Suffolk Coastal) has an awareness of this issue and stated:
“Trimley St Martin Primary School, to the south of Kirton, is forecast to be over capacity within the first five years of the plan period; however, Policy SCLP12.62 allocates land for a new primary school in the area. Development of this site will need to contribute to the provision of additional school places as set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.”
As those familiar with the Local Plan will be aware, a new school is proposed on the land behind Reeve Lodge although be decision has yet to be finalised and implemented.
Lorna is a diligent Governor of St. Martin’s Primary School and when asked about her ambitions for the school, reminded me of the School Development Plan’s stated aim to improve achievements across both Key Stage 1 and 2. She has a sound awareness of how the school operates and of what is required from both Staff and Students. Towards the end of our time together, we fell into a slightly expanded conversation about other things in Laura’s life and it emerged she is the Secretary of The South East Suffolk Arts Society[xv]. (This was originally known as National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies or N.A.D.F.A.S.) It’s another organisation devoted to learning, study days and cultural visits and I fully appreciate Lorna’s attraction to this stream of continuous learning. I can’t imagine her approaching her commitments with anything less than full drive and enthusiasm. Having held the post of School Governor for ten years, her knowledge is part of the School’s ‘company history’ and combined with her aptitude with statistics, provides expertise for any future changes.
Trimley St. Martin Primary School
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[ii] H.N.D. Higher National Diploma
[vii] This later merged with the Department for Transport to become the Department of the Environment
[viii] This later became the Office of National Statistics.
[xii] Held at the Ipswich branch of Suffolk Record Office. A2789/1