History of the School

The nuns of St. Mary's Convent, Ascot had wanted to teach local children and took on the running of the school next to St. Francis' Church when it was first opened in 1892 with thirty - four children. It was not, however, until after the arrival of Mother Bonaventure in 1899 that the school was declared efficient by Her Majesty's Inspectors. Mother Bonaventure was to remain as Headmistress for some forty years until her retirement in 1939. Mother Peter, from St. Mary's Convent, then became Headmistress.

A London school was evacuated to Ascot in 1939 and were placed in South Ascot Village Hall, not far from St Francis School. At 5.20 a.m. on the 10th November 1940 the school buildings were destroyed by a stray bomb dropped by a German plane. There were no casualties apart from a pet tortoise asleep under a hedge but the fifty children attending the school had to be accommodated elsewhere. For three weeks they shared South Ascot Village Hall with the London School before being transferred an old building belonging to the Church of England school in Upper Village Road, Sunninghill. Their stay, which was meant to be temporary, lasted for some thirteen years.

In 1946 an architect was engaged to rebuild the school on the site by St. Francis Church for a hundred pupils. He reported that additional land or a change of location would be necessary. Plans were then shelved when a one form entry school in Bracknell was planned.

Conditions, however, in Sunninghill were shocking and were made more difficult after the 1944 Education Act which stated that children had to remain at school until they were fifteen years old. Father Martin Cawley, Franciscan Guardian from 1952-1957, realised that something had to be done urgently. He bought a reconstructed army hut for £595 and, having sited it by the church in Ascot , opened it in June 1953. The school was back where it had started - an important point as the Bracknell scheme faded out of sight.

By January 1957 the increase in the number of pupils meant that more accommodation was needed and a second-hand prefabricated hut was erected. In 1958 official permission for a new school building was given. The site was cleared in 1962 and the building completed the day before Archbishop King opened it on 4th October St Francis Feast Day.

Mother Peter retired in 1966 bringing to an end the long association of St. Mary's Convent with the Headship of St. Francis School. Since then there have been four lay Head teachers - Mr. Basil Watts, Mrs. Molly Sutherland-Dodd, Mrs. Jackie Wilson and the current head Mrs. Jane Gow.

On 4th October 1992 , St Francis Day, the school began a week of celebrations to mark its centenary. The oldest former pupil we could locate - at school here in 1904 - joined us for the Infants' Christmas production "The Christmas Farm" which celebrated the fact that St Francis was the first person to have thought of a crib at Christmas.

The school roll has dramatically increased over the last few years and over 1999-2000 the Governing body successfully organised an excellent increase of accommodation and security for present and future pupils and staff.

St Francis Primary School, Coronation Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 9HG
Tel: 01344 622840