School won move after fungus started to grow on the walls

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It must have felt like heaven when the pupils moved to New St Joseph’s School in Oxford.

They were greeted by smart, luxurious classrooms on Headley Way, Headington, a far cry from the dilapidated buildings they had just left in St. Clement.

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The former school in a narrow location between the Port Mahon pub and St. Clement’s parsonage has served the community well for 100 years, but it has gone beyond its best.

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The change occurred in September 1968, and, according to pupils, parents, teachers, and supporters, it was long overdue.

Since then, the school has been featured regularly in the Oxford Post, as these photos show.

St. Clement’s School was clearly a happy school, although by the mid-1960s a city council member, Philip Butler, described the conditions there as a disgrace.

The main buildings were old – the hall dates back to 1793 – and the heating was poor, they had outside toilets and fungi grew on the walls.

The playground was so small that the 200 children took turns playing.

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Traffic through St Clement made so much noise that the teacher in the front class had to close the windows and choke or scream.

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Plans to re-establish the school were constantly rejected by members of the city council, who were responsible for Oxford education at the time.

Mother Mary Scholastica told the Oxford Mail in 1965: “Other schools take precedence over us because councilors say we have a roof over our heads.

“We were rejected in 1967 and now we hope to enter 1968.”

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Her calls were finally answered. Joseph’s new school opened in Headley Way, with seven classrooms, a swimming pool, a library, and an auditorium also used as a gymnasium.

Joyce Austin was still a volunteer assistant at the age of 82.

The school celebrated her long service and her 80th birthday in 2000 by putting up a limousine to take her to a jewelry store.

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