School History

History of the Weedons District

The heart of any community must be the school as it is here that the children of the district gather and spend the most formative years of their lives. The Weedons School was opened in October 1871 with a roll of 20 pupils but two months later the roll was 43. It was noted in the Board of Education Inspector's report that the daily average roll was 33 pupils.

The first teacher was Mr William Christian who received a salary of 146 pounds per annum with Miss Mary Swarbruck the assistant teacher receiving 50 pounds. From a Board of Education Inspector's report dated 4th December 1871 it was stated that "The schoolroom 30' x 18' is of good design but not well built; the doors and flooring have already shrunk; the room is consequently drafty; the walls are lined with white pine; Baltic is preferable. The rain is said to come in a little at the roof. The desks are of suitable dimensions except as to the length, only 7 1/2 feet instead of 9 feet long each desk, a loss of 13 1/2 feet of desk accommodation and a waste of that space in alleys unnecessarily wide. The desks are hardly strong enough, and have shrunken from the greenness of the wood."

The reminisces of Shirley Keast going to Weedons in 1944 – 49 can be accessed by clicking here.

In June 1958 Mr G.F. Gilmour, Hon. Secretary of the School Committee wrote to the Education Board outlining the need for urgent consideration to be given to the rebuilding of the Weedons School which at this time consisted of the original 1871 building and a pre-fabricated classroom. With the planned appointment of a third teacher the space available would be completely inadequate. Also there was no staffroom or sick-bay.

It was seven years later that approval was obtained from the Minister of Education for a grant of $18,580.75 to enable a contract to be let for the construction of a new two classroom school together with cloakroom, toilet facilities etc. Plans for the new school were prepared by the Board's Architectural section and the contract was awarded to T.P. Capon Construction Ltd.

The new school buildings were occupied from February 1966 and the disposal of the old buildings took place in May that year.

The first school-house was built in 1877 and demolished in 1926 but there doesn't appear to be any explanation why. The idea was put forward in 1955 that the pre-fabricated Model Show Home on display at the New Zealand Industries Fair at Addington Showgrounds in Christchurch could be considered as a school house.

The Canterbury Education Department agreed and at a total cost of 4050 pounds the house was dismantled and re-erected at Weedons School along with the garage and fuel store.

Mr W.R. Wilkinson was the headteacher when the new schoolhouse was acquired.

It was near the beginning of Russell Dawson's long term as Headteacher that the new school was built and with his leadership the school and schoolhouse grounds became a much admired focal point of the district. The combined efforts of teachers, parents and the children over many years have ensured that the initial planning, landscaping and planting has continued to reflect the pride the present pupils have in their school.

The recognition of the outstanding work and dedication has been evident by the number of awards bestowed on the school, the most prestigious being the MacFarlane Shield. This is awarded to the school which has made the most progress in agricultural activities and particularly participation by the pupils in improving their school grounds. Weedons School gained the highest marks ever achieved in 1970 in this competition, demonstrating that only the best effort was good enough.

The pupil's achievements have been well backed by a caring community who over the years have obtained extra land for a football field, provided fine infant play apparatus as well as buying protective hedge trees and putting down an efficient water reticulation scheme. A learners swimming pool was built in 1957/58. Interaction with other schools, mainly in the sporting field has further developed the pupil's pride when they represent their school.

Field trips have been many and varied and here again it is the parents who were always on hand to assist the teachers and make these outings more enjoyable. Projects full of interesting information and viewpoints are a feature of any school trip and Weedons pupils were adept at creating worthwhile reminders of their expeditions.

The past 25 years have seen the end of 27 years and 1 term of dedicated leadership by Russell Dawson. Apart from his scholastic achievements he also has the distinction of being a descendent of the early settlers on both his maternal and paternal sides.

The education system underwent far-reaching changes in 1989 when school committees became superseded by Boards of Trustees who took over the responsibility of running the schools. It was mainly the parents who formed these boards and with the usual community spirit Weedons School has flourished with its multi-talented Board in control.

Head Teachers and School Committee Chairs (LINK BROKEN)

History of the Weedons District