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Our History

History of the School – a personal reflection

Roding Valley is 30 years old this September, having been established in September 1989. I have witnessed all those 30 years, 28 years as a full time teacher and the last two as a part time member of staff.

The history of the school , for me , falls into three parts , it’s start , it’s consolidation and it’s development into the outstanding school it is today. The constants has always been that it has remained a community school serving primarily the communities of Loughton and Buckhurst Hill. At its heart has always been the development of the full child and RVHS has always offered excellent extra curricula opportunities particularly in the fields of sport and drama.

The start of the school

Roding Valley was an amalgamation of three very different schools within our local community , the former Loughton County High School for Girls (a former grammar school for girls which had turned comprehensive) , Buckhurst Hill County High School for Boys (which had also turned from a grammar school into a single sex comprehensive school) and finally Epping Forest High School (a co-educational comprehensive school).

Three very different schools merged together over four different sites , interesting times. The job of pulling this altogether fell to our first head Mrs Manning.

The school has always been well served by its head teacher’s , Mrs Manning , Mr Wincot , Mr Taylor , Mr Mangan , Mr Banks , Mr Luck and now Mrs Jenner all seeking to push the school forward.

Higlights of the start

One highlight of the early days was the official opening on the 15th May 1991 by HRH The Princess Royal. She arrived on the area which is now our upgraded all weather surface by the sports hall and the entire 1,200 pupils were lined up for this special occasion.

Improving Our Facilities
A constant for me at Roding Valley has always been the wish to improve our facilities for the benefit of our pupils. Ever since the school opened in 1989 there has been constant improvements. The sports hall , the first all weather pitch , the Maths teaching area (which is still called the New Block) and very recently the Brook Building (opened by our local MP at the start of school year in 2018) and the second all weather playing surface on the other side of the railway line).

Extra Curricular Opportunities

Right from the start these opportunities have always been at the very heart of RVHS.
Drama and its many productions have always been of a very high standard with the benchmark being set by the very first school production in 1990 of the musical The Boy Friend performed in the former EFHS school hall at Homecroft Gardens. The school has had several former pupils go on to have successful careers in the performing arts.
Sporting opportunities and sporting excellence has also been at the very heart of RVHS and a stand out performance for me was the Year 9 boys becoming joint winners of the English Schools National Cup competition in 2004. At the present time RVHS has several ex students playing professional football ( I am aware of at least four).

Final Thoughts

Working at RVHS for its entire 30 year history has been an immense privilege (a feeling that I know is shared by many current and ex staff members).
The school has always strived to offer the best possible opportunities to all our pupils from within the local community.

The setting up of the sixth form three years ago has allowed us to now offer these same opportunities at post 16 and it has been great to see how this important development in the life of RVHS has flourished in the last three years.

The Roding Valley spirit for me is one of team work and seeking to obtain the very best from staff and pupils alike.

Here’s to the next 30 years.

Written by Stephen Murray


Before Roding Valley High School: Loughton High School for Girls – 116 Year Anniversary – January 2022

The current site of Roding Valley High School was formally Loughton High School for Girls. This was founded 116 years ago. Former student – Christine Spencer has written the following reflection of her school:

Roding Valley High School occupies the site that was once the home of Loughton County High School for Girls. Loughton High opened its doors for the first time on 17 January 1906 at Orielet House, York Hill, Loughton before moving to its new purpose-built home in Alderton Hill in 1908. The school began with just two members of staff and 29 pupils. The first Headmistress was Miss Mary Hall who attended the same school, Manchester High, as Christabel, Sylivia and Adela Pankhurst, the daughters of Emmeline Pankhurst.

There is a bronze bust of Miss Hall located in the school entrance hall, sculpted by Averil Picot, a former teacher at Loughton but also an artist whose work was displayed at the Royal Academy. After Miss Picot’s death in the 1950’s an art scholarship was established in her name in her family’s home island of Jersey.

Like Roding Valley High, Loughton High sought to encourage its pupils to give of their best to achieve the best that they could. Besides the many academic achievements that can be seen on the wood panelling in the entrance hall, Loughton had a number of long-standing traditions.

First amongst these was Music – from the annual carol concert to the performances of the combined school choir(Loughton with Bancrofts) at St Martins in the Fields and St Barts. In 1946 the choir recorded a programme of hymns for the BBC and in 1953 an LP of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel featuring the combined choirs was released.

This was not the only foray into public broadcasting by Loughton High. In 1963 a team competed in the then popular TV quiz “Top of the Form”. Unfortunately, the girls lost to a boys’ grammar school from Hull.

One of the team members was Charlotte Perrin who went on to become an actress. For a number of years an inter form drama competition was held between the first 4 years of school (years 7 to 10 now) to win the Charlotte Perrin drama cup.

Over its 83-year history many Loughton pupils have gone on to great achievements in their chosen field. You will all be familiar with Ruth Rendell who as Ruth Graseman was at school in the 1930’s and 40’s. More recently Jill Barklem author of the Brambly Hedge books was at Loughton in the 1960’s. She was born Gillian Gaze and her family owned Pynes Department store in Epping.

Several past pupils have been Olympians – Elizabeth Long(1964 4X100m swimming relay), Shirley Netherway (1960 & 1964 Fencing) and Kim Hagger(1984 & 1988 Heptathlon.) Perhaps our best-known recent sportsperson is Debbie Jevans who was at school in the 1970’s. She played at senior Wimbledon and was the Director of Sports for the London Olympics 2012.

There are many, many more achievements that could be cited(more authors, artists, musicians and sportswomen among pupils and teachers alike). For all past pupils, Loughton High holds a special place in their hearts – to them it was more than just a school. Lifelong friendships were made in an excellent school environment. Since the demise of Loughton High in 1989 much has changed in education and at the Alderton Hill site. However,many things remain the same.

Aspiration, Respect, Endeavour.