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St Peter's Secondary Modern school

The school was opened in 1960 to replace St Bega's School. It also included pupils from Blackhall in its first intake. The school was in King Oswy Drive West View. The first headmaster was Mr Timothy McCarthy,deputy Mr Robert Garraghan and then a staff of approximately 12 covering all the curriculum. When it opened, the playground was unfinished so children spent breaks on the spare land where St John Vianney's School now stands.

Father Patrick Lacey was the Parish Priest resulting in the staff having to walk the children from school to St Thomas More's Church for First Friday Devotions and Confessions. This became much easier when St John Vianney's Church was built, the Parish Priest being Father Laurence Murray. He was supported by his curate Father Thomas Burke who visited the school regularly.

Within a short time, children from the Trimdons attended the school and both they and the Blackhall children travelled on special buses. The school had a good mix of pupils and develpoed a happy,sociable atmosphere.

When Mr McCarthy retired, Mr Garraghan was appointed headmaster. Many children worked to CSE level with great success and a GCE class was formed. THis took in pupils from a wide area including Billingham, Thornley, Murton and Shotton amongst others. An arrangement with St Francis' grammar School and St Joseph's Convent meant that any 'late developers' could transfer to the Grammar Schools if it felt they could benefit. Similarly, any children who were not able to flourish at grammar school could transfer to St Peter's.

Many traditions were established with Christmas celebrations,school trips, sporting fixtues and staff get togethers establishing an identity for St Peter's. In addition, the 'mix' of village and town pupils, boys and girls created a unique situation in Catholic Secondary Schools in the town.

St Peter's was a three form entry school with about 200 pupils on roll. A school uniform was established and parents were encouraged to support this initiative. The school was such that that close links were possible with families. As the school expanded during the early years, staff  numbers also increased to reflect this. Father Eamonn Croghan became Parish Priest on the death of Father Murray and was a regular visitor in school.

In 1973, with the onset of comprehensive education, St Peter's became part of English Martyrs' School. The buildings and land became part of the new Henry Smith Comprehensive School. Staff who transferred to English Martyrs were: mr Robert Garraghan, mr John Day, Mr Ken Fawcett, Mr Tom Reece, Mr Laurie Marshall, Mr Michael Mullen, Miss  NOrah Pouner, Mrs Susan Rice, Miss  Monica Dunne and Miss Eileen Spellman.  This ensured that the pupils from St Peter's knew a number of staff and this helped to move to be as smooth as possible.

Eileen Spellman, Susan Rice

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