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Changing Times | The history of Bishop Luffa School – Part two

This week’s article continues to explore the history of Bishop Luffa School from the 1980s.


Major changes occurred at the school in the 1980s, not least with the retirement in 1981 of head teacher Mr Leslie Bartlett, who had been with the school from the outset.


The decade also saw significant changes to the delivery of teaching, including the introduction of a system which integrated primary and secondary schools from Year 1 through to Year 13. A national curriculum was introduced and O levels and CSE were replaced by GCSEs. At the same time, the school introduced a two-week timetable.


On Sunday, November 14, 2004, disaster struck the school as vandals wrecked the school’s sports hall by flooding the changing rooms and setting fire to the building. Firefighters were called onto the scene shortly after 2am. There was extensive smoke damage to the school building.


Construction of a new drama studio began in August, 2006, and was completed in February, 2007. This was to be the start of a significant creative arts centre for the school.


Further improvements to the school’s facilities have included the construction of a multi-use games area, the extension of the school’s sports hall and the remodelling and updating of one of the former blocks of classrooms named K Block.


Bishop Luffa has a long record of charitable fundraising and each house has its own nominated charities which are supported through fundraising activities. Fundraising events are organised throughout the year, including the school’s annual charity week, which is organised by the sixth form. The week includes a non-uniform (and fancy dress) day as one of its highpoints.


On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the school broke the Guinness World Record for the World’s largest human smiley, as part of charity week events in support of the sixth form charities ‘Grassroots’ and ‘Hope and Homes’. The previous record of 551 people was more than doubled, with an astonishing 1,349 people.


A local pilot, Matt Ponsford, gave up his time to record the event via aerial photography. Sadly, the record didn’t last long and was broken just a few months later in July by an Indian University with 3,737 people.


The school’s 50th anniversary in 2013 was celebrated with a jubilee day on Saturday, October 5. Activities included a service in the cathedral, lunch in the Bartlett Hall, displays, presentations and other entertainment at the school as well as an opportunity for past students to reunite. The day culminated in an evening BBQ, dancing and live bands.


In 2017, the school finished 18 months of renovation work which involved remodelling one of the old buildings. The site underwent considerable development and resulted a newly updated humanities block and repositioning the main reception. On Monday, April 24, 2017, the school’s new reception opened.


By the time of the school’s 55th anniversary year in 2018 there had been only four head teachers, John Ashwin, who succeeded the school’s first head, Leslie Bartlett, Nick Taunt,who retired after 18 years of service and the current head teacher, Austen Hindman.


Today, the school houses have grown in number from four to eight, but all remain named after former Bishops of Chichester. Ridgeway, Wilson and Burrows all remain while Andrewes, King, Otter, Sherborne and Story complete the octuplet.


At present, the school is an outstanding Ofsted-rated school. The school’s Christian values remain at its core to this day, and is epitomised by their motto ‘Always our best because everyone matters’.



Compiled using information from Our School Bishop Luffa School 1963 – 2013.
Photographs courtesy of the Bishop Luffa School Archive.

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