English Martyrs' Catholic Primary School

Nurturing a relationship with Jesus Christ

History of the school

with thanks to the English martyrs history group and their 4-volume history of the parish - "A red brick church"

Our current building on Dee Road was opened in 1962, but the school was actually established in 1957.

The first pupils were taught by Sister Mary Anselm (from St Joseph's Convent), an untrained helper and another nun, Sister Magdelena, in a curtained-off area at the back of St Joseph's church in Tilehurst. They had to pack everything away on Friday afternoons and get it all back out again on Monday mornings.

A huge fundraising effort by members of the Reading catholic community took place to provide a permanent home for the school and Sister Anselm, her staff and the children were able to move in on 16th January 1962. A further 150 children joined the school on 30th April 1962 and the building was blessed and officially opened by Bishop John Henry King on 9th July 1962.

The new school building consisted of a kitchen/dining area, a hall/gymnasium, eight classrooms and two playgrounds. Over the years the building has been extended several times and currently has fourteen classes (two per year group) as well as a Nursery class which opened for the first time in September 2017.

Sister Anselm retired as headteacher in 1982. Paul Spindler served as headteacher until 1999 and was succeeded by Linda Heneghan. Maura Dibley deputised for Miss Heneghan when she became ill during her time in office. Geraldine Lindley served as headteacher from 2007 until 2008. Fran Valentine and Anton Dworzak both served as acting headteacher before the arrival of Jamie Carroll as headteacher in 2009. Mr Carroll moved to St Bede's in Basingstoke in July 2017 and Mr Dworzak served as acting headteacher until Easter 2018 when Catherine Doberska rejoined the school after 8 years to take up the role of headteacher.

The willow tree at the front of the school is a bit of a local landmark that occupies a big part in all our hearts, but we nearly lost it in July 2019. A huge branch came down early in the morning, causing minor damage to the school fence. Fortunately, the tree surgeons were able to save our lovely willow, although it needed a serious prune to ensure that it was safe and stable once again. We have been assured that it will soon return to its former glory. The Early Years children were delighted by the table and chairs that were made out of the wood from the fallen branch.