Forest of Needwood High School

Which organisation opened its doors in our village on 1st September 1963, became a focus for community life throughout its short existence and closed on 31st March 1985 after a conscientious and often bitter battle?

The answer, as everyone who lived in Rolleston during this time will know, is the Forest of Needwood High School.

The ‘Forest’, as it was affectionately known, began life as a Secondary Modern School moving from Tutbury to Rolleston in 1963 when the then brand new buildings were opened. From its opening it set out to serve more than just the pupils who attended - it opened its heart to village organisations and was the base for the thriving adult and youth organisations.

It was, however, in the 70s and 80s that the school really made its mark in the village. The national wave of comprehensive education swept through Rolleston and the Forest in 1973 and the school rapidly began to establish a reputation second to none in the area for academic excellence. In this field no single subject was exceptional, the school successfully built upon the superb work done in its feeder primaries to achieve the highest standards in ‘O’ level. GCSE, ‘A’ level and University entrants.

However, it was not just in the academic field that the school led the way - it was the centre of community life for people of all ages in our village and beyond. It was not only the base for the highly successful (and never repeated locally) Adult Education and Youth Service organisations, with between them, many thousands of members, but also home to the massively popular music festivals and the regular dances promoted by the Scouts, PTA and others. Events such as the school’s own drama festivals, "It’s a Knockout", all night discotheques, the visits of Radio One famous personalities and others too numerous to mention made village life for all ages exciting, with a never ending anticipation for the next "event at the Forest".

Such was its success and growth that in the late 70s the playing fields were extended and new buildings, which included a swimming pool (the only one in the schools in the Burton area) were built.

How sad to see all that achievement destroyed. Fifteen years on from its closure, history has proven beyond doubt that the decision taken then was not to the benefit of the young people of our village. However, one must be positive and remember the successes. For the generation who lived through those brief twenty-two years of the millennium, the ‘Forest’ remains a wonderful memory - may everyone connected with the school have an equally rewarding 21st century.

M.J. Badcock

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© This site was created by Richard Bush

Last updated: 5 April 2000