MP Louise Mensch joins in the fun for school’s 200th birthday

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JUBILANT children and teachers dressed up in style to celebrate 200 years of classroom life at a primary school.

Pupils at Oundle CE Primary School marked the milestone by dressing in costumes from the past two centuries.

These included Victorian workers, Second World War soldiers, American gangsters, hippies and punk rockers.

The youngsters were joined by local MP Louise Mensch, who chatted with the children amid a sea of celebratory balloons.

Headteacher Janet McMurdo said: “It was a fantastic occasion. Our school is going from strength to strength.

“We were graded as outstanding in a recent Ofsted inspection and now we have extra reason to celebrate.

“We have achieved so much this year thanks to the wonderful commitment of all involved with the school.

“Having a 200th birthday party with our MP rounds it all off perfectly.”

Mrs Mensch added: “As a resident of Oundle I was honoured to be invited to this celebration.

“The children looked wonderful in their costumes and really enjoyed themselves.

“The whole school rightly feels of this anniversary.”

Lessons at the school began way back in 1811 - a year in which Finland was founded, Spencer Percival was in Downing Street and Napoleon was in charge of France.

The first classroom was established in a barn loft in what is now part of the Talbot Hotel.

The venue had been rented from the town’s famous brewer John Smith, who also owned the Talbot. It cost about £170 to convert the loft and classes began shortly afterwards.

In 1842 120 children at the school moved across to the current building in Milton Road after local curate Reverend Charles Hume won a government grant to construct it.

The school began life as one of a number of “national schools for the education of the poor in the principles of the established church.”

In 1876, the mixed school was separated. The girls stayed at Milton Road while the boys went to join the Bluecoat Boys of Latham’s School in North Street.

But in 1903 the boys returned to Milton Road and have been there ever since.

In the school’s archives there is a list of “rules for teachers in 1872”. These include filling lamps and cleaning chimneys and whitling the nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.