History compiled by Mrs. P. Carnell and Mr. D.G. Pugh
Dean Henderson’s vision in 1930 was for a Church School for girls and one for boys. The senior departments of St. Michaels, Christ Church and The Abbey were to be incorporated to form the new schools. The Churches involved were St. Michaels, Christ Church in Verulam Road, The Abbey and St. Saviours.
The chosen site in Townsend Drive (now occupied by the Music School) was inspected and the raising of funds began, with parishioners subscribing freely.
The boys and girls took to school their “pennies for bricks”, giving from their pocket money, knowing that many of them would never attend the new building.
The Foundation Stone was laid in 1932 and the building began. In June 1933 a Fair opened by Princess Marie Louise was held in the Abbey Orchard and £1,000 was raised.
By September 1933 the building was completed, except for the Dining Hall, which was built later. There were no grounds staff but the boys worked during their gardening lessons and the girls spent their dinner hours taming the rough clay and creating a rockery, flower borders and a rose bed.
Miss Rollin was the first Head Teacher of the Girls’ School, with five members of Staff and 180 girls in five classes.
Mr. Watson was the Head Teacher of the Boys’ School with three members of staff and 111 boys in three classes.
The War period of 1939 – 1945 was a very difficult time. Once a week each member of Staff had to remain at school all night after a day’s teaching on “Fire Watch” and continue teaching the following day. Pupils kept their coats, gas masks and cushions in their desks so that in the event of an alert they were able to leave carrying their cushions and masks and enter the air raid shelters in perfect order and silence. Suitable lessons would continue in the air raid shelter until the “all clear” sounded and the pupils returned to their classrooms.
Miss Rowland took over as Head of the Girls’ School in 1953. Her enthusiasm, planning and endeavour led to the new building at High Oaks.
The Foundation Stone for the new building in High Oaks was laid in September 1963 and the opening of Townsend Girls’ School took place in June 1965.
Townsend Boys’ School took over the whole of the site in Townsend Drive, remaining there until July 1974.
In September 1974, Miss Legerton who had followed Miss Rowland as Head Teacher of the Girls’ School in 1973, became Head of the merged school. The official opening of the Townsend Church of England School at the High Oaks site, was performed by the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester in May 1975.
The Original “Foundation Stones” from the previous school sites, can be found in the “Founders Entrance”.
Early in 1979, The Heathlands School for the Deaf in St. Albans, set up a Secondary Department..
After approaching several other secondary schools in St. Albans unsuccessfully, they were welcomed by Townsend and their Secondary Department started using the Townsend School facilities in September 1979.
September 1983 saw the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the setting up of the first Townsend School.
In February 1987, Mrs. S. Greenfield became the Head Teacher and within eight weeks of her taking over, the school was threatened with closure by the Local Education Authority.
The next few years at Townsend were very stressful for everyone.
The threat of closure fused all those who loved Townsend into a dynamic driving force.
Students, past and present, teachers, parents and governors fought a long and vigorous campaign to keep the school open.
In 1991 the long term future of Townsend was finally secured.
September 1993, saw the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the setting up of the first Townsend School. The occasion was marked with reunions, a Charity Walk and a whole School photograph.
Mr. A. Wellbeloved our present Head Teacher was appointed in 1995. He already knew the school well, as he had been the Deputy Head Teacher for the previous four years.
In the 1990’s after the threat of closure had been removed from the School, the school numbers grew quickly.
In fact, the pupil numbers increased so quickly that there was not enough classroom space to house them.
In September 1996 a new building, housing the Learning Resources Centre, Sixth Form Study room and five English classrooms was opened. The official opening of the new building complex was performed by The Bishop of St. Albans, The Right Revd. Christopher Herbert in April 1997.
1996 also saw several classrooms converted for the specialist use of the Heathlands hearing impaired pupils.
Recent years have seen the continued growth in popularity of Townsend Church of England School, with all years in the School now being oversubscribed.
- In 1999 and again in 2005 Townsend was awarded the prestigious “Charter Mark” for excellence in Public Service by the Prime Minister.
- In 2008 Townsend was awarded the Gold “Sports Mark” for excellence in Physical Education.
- In 2001 and again in 2005 Townsend gained the “Investors In People” award.
- In 2002 and again in 2005 Townsend was awarded the Silver “Arts Mark” for excellence in Art, Drama and Music.
Townsend continues to go from strength to strength.
More than 700 students and staff from all of the decades, the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s were present at the 70th Anniversary Celebrations.
In 2008 Townsend gained the “Eco Schools” award.
Eco-Schools is an international award programme that schools can achieve on their sustainable journey. It helps embed these principles into the heart of school life.
In 2009 Townsend was awarded “Humanities Specialist School” status
Townsend Church of England School has been designated a Specialist Humanities School. As a Humanities School we strive to foster an understanding of human values and attitudes, past and present and how society is organised, developed and changed.
In 2010 Townsend gained the “International Schools” award.
The International School Award is an accreditation scheme for curriculum-based international work in schools. The award provides recognition for schools working to instill a global dimension into the learning experience of all children and young people.
In 2011 Townsend School remodelled the Learning Resources Centre which was built as part of a new development in 1997. This new remodelled area has been re-branded as the Discovery Centre and houses modern extensive IT and media facilities as well as an extended library facility.
In 2011 – 12 an “Eco” garden was developed beside the Music rooms. This garden was set up as part of the Schools Humanities Specialism. The garden is maintained by each subject area on a rolling programme and provides food for the Food Technology department and the main school canteen.
In 2012 two major projects took place:
Sixth Form Centre
The creation of a dedicated Sixth Form Centre, which includes, a large study room with computing facilities, common room, office space, three teaching rooms all with interactive smart screens, and centre wide wireless connectivity.
The redevelopment and refurbishment of the Technology Centre, which houses: Electronics, Plastics, Food and Resistant Materials rooms in a modern dedicated centre.
2014 Saw the culmination of a long term external project
The Installation of an all-weather canopy outside the large canteen and covered walkways between the Technology Suite and the Science and Art centre, and between Science/Art and the main teaching centre. A large number of student table tennis tables, external seating, and picnic tables were also installed to enhance the site.
2015 The St Albans Music School relocates to the Townsend site
During the February half term of 2015, the Hertfordshire County Council St Albans Music School started migrating to the Townsend site having been asked to leave their current premises. During the summer holidays the Music Centre and the western end of the main teaching block was refurbished to meet the specialist needs of the Music School and to enhance the provision for students attending Townsend. It was agrees that the Music School could have guaranteed shared use of part of Townsend’s premises for three years and this could, by agreement, be increased to five years. This joint venture was designed for the Music School to enhance music provision for Townsend students and for them to promote Townsend and thus widen the school recruitment base from local primary schools. As the end of the agreed period was during the Coronavirus pandemic, the school governors agreed for a further extension for another year to allow adequate time for the Hertfordshire County Council Music School to find new premises. With the continuing impact of the pandemic the arrangement was further extended for another temporary period.
Things seemed to have moved full circle, as it was the Music School that had many years ago moved onto the original Townsend School site in Townsend Drive (next to Garden Fields Primary School) when the Townsend Boys’ School moved from the site to join the Townsend Girls’ School on the High Oaks site in 1974 to make a mixed Church of England Secondary School to serve a wide area of the St Albans Diocese.
External inspections of Townsend Church of England School in 2015 and 2016 resulted in “Good” and “Outstanding” reports from Ofsted and the Church of England Inspection (SIAMS) and these results were confirmed by another Ofsted report in 2018.
The Coronavirus Pandemic (Covid) Years
2019 to 2022 was a very difficult and challenging time for all at Townsend with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Like all other schools in the country, Townsend was only able to stay open for the children of critical workers, children in care, children with a social worker, or those with serious mental health issues and was closed by the Government, like all schools across the country, to other students for long periods of time while the pandemic was fought by all national agencies.
During these extended closures, teaching was moved “online” for all students not able to attend school. This was a major challenge for the staff in preparing, uploading and assessing work. It was also difficult for many students, especially those that had no access to the internet or a home computer. For many parents/carers it was a case of trying to juggle access to the home computer for their children, with their own work requirements and commitments as many of them were instructed by the government to work from home at this time. The school provided laptop computers to many families to support them and regularly delivered nearly 150 food parcels to families in need (in addition to the existing free school meal provision), and staff carried out regular extensive safeguarding and welfare checks to make sure all students were safe and well.
During the Coronavirus period the school said a fond farewell to the very long serving Deputy Headteacher, Miss Longwood. She had postponed her planned retirement to help the school through the initial period of the pandemic. After over 30 years of loyal and wonderful service to the school Miss Lingwood was missed but had left an enduring legacy in the school.
From 2022 the school was emerging from the disrupted years of the Coronavirus pandemic and everyone was focused on rebuilding and re-establishing the Townsends School community that is so well respected. There was an increased focus on student and staff well-being with much additional support provided. Work also continued on regular site, classroom and building refurbishment and renewal to keep Townsend as a lovely place to work and to study. 300 Chromebook computers were added to the already significant computing provision of the school These were in addition to the six well-established computing rooms and the computers held by various subject areas as the Chromebooks were designed to be housed in mobile cabinets so that they could be used by any class anywhere across the school site. The long term project to completely fence the school site was completed and electronic gates and doors were installed in key locations. A new emergency loudspeaker communication system was installed across the school site to replace the school lesson bells and to enhance the emergency evacuation or lockdown capacity of the school.
Environmental improvements continued in the school with projects to increase significantly roof insulation, improve the heating system, and the commencement of replacement of all internal and external lighting with more energy efficient LED lighting (completed in 2023). There was a real focus on the environmental impact of the school and many initiatives were implemented to improve the energy efficiency of the school and to help to address climate change.
In 2022 the school installed a large new all-weather multi-sport area to improve further the good sporting facilities of the school.
2023 – The end of one era
2023 saw the retirement of Mr Wellbeloved, Townsend’s longest serving Head Teacher.
Mr Wellbeloved joined Townsend in 1991 as a Deputy Headteacher and succeeded Sheila Greenfield as Headteacher in 1995. Mr Wellbeloved was in the leadership of Townsend Church of England School for an amazing 32 years. During his time the school expanded, achieved many awards, and achieved good examination and inspection reports. Students started to attend Townsend from over 65 Primary Schools and from all areas of the Diocese of St Albans – Hertfordshire, Luton, Central Bedfordshire, Bedford Town, and the London Borough of Barnet. There were very many improvements made to the school site and to teaching and learning during Mr Wellbeloved’s leadership, although the focus always remained on the quality of the education of young people, the school’s Respect for All policy, the distinctive Christian identity of the school, and the well-being of students and staff.
“Best Wishes to All Past Students and Staff From All at Townsend”